Warner Bros. Pictures’ “The Conjuring” franchise contains five movies, and currently sits with a $1.5B worldwide gross. The newest release in the franchise hits theaters this week, and “Annabelle: Comes Home” has some creepy shoes to fill. The studio’s newest horror-thriller is opening unopposed at the box office this weekend, but it will battle “Toy Story 4” and “Child’s Play” during their second week in theaters. The following weekend is the release of the comedy “Yesterday” from Universal Pictures, and the return of “Avengers: Endgame” in 2,000 theaters nationwide. The interconnected franchise continues to dominate the charts with each release, but that only puts more pressure on each installment.
“Annabelle: Creation” has a new director and a new release window, two significant changes to the franchise. Producer James Wan is still behind the project, and the movie is bringing back the franchise’s biggest stars to entice moviegoers. To take the top spot within the Conjuring Universe, “Annabelle Comes Home” has to beat the records set by previous hits like “The Nun” and “The Conjuring 2,” which won’t be easy.
The Conjuring Universe began in 2014 when “The Conjuring” hit theaters in July. Directed by James Wan, the film featured Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Joey King, and Mackenzie Foy. Chad and Carey Hayes wrote the script for the movie, and “The Conjuring” opened at number-one with a $41.8M debut. An instant hit with fans, the summer blockbuster made over $319M worldwide on an estimated $20M budget.
With the sudden success of “The Conjuring,” Warner Bros. Pictures put “Annabelle” into production. The spinoff created the ‘Conjuring Universe,’ and John R. Leonetti directed the film from a script by Gary Dauberman. The spinoff starred Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, and Alfre Woodard, and the studio released the movie in October instead of July. The second installment to the franchise opened in second place behind “Gone Girl,” but still managed to gross over $37.1M on opening weekend. Put together on a shoestring budget of $6.5M, the follow-up made over $84M domestically and over $257M worldwide.
Two years later, “The Conjuring 2” hit theaters, this time as a June release. James Wan returned to direct the sequel, and the Hayes writers put together the script. “The Conjuring 2” brought back Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, alongside Madison Wolfe, Laren Esposito, and demon nun Bonnie Aarons. The studio gave “The Conjuring 2” a $40M budget and the movie made $40.4M on opening weekend before grossing over $320M worldwide.
A year later in 2017, “Annabelle Creation” released in theaters, but the follow-up moved from October to August. David F. Sandberg took over directing duties, and Gary Dauberman returned to write the script. The studio gave the second Annabelle movie a $15M budget, and the installment brought in $35M on opening weekend before grossing over $306M globally. The new Annabelle movie featured Anthony LaPaglia, Samara Lee, Miranda Otto, Lulu Wilson, and Stephanie Sigman.
Then Warner Bros. Pictures switched things up, and instead of releasing “The Conjuring 3,” the studio decided to release “The Nun.” James Wan was busy with “Aquaman” at the time, another Warner Bros. Pictures project, and Corin Hardy stepped in to direct the new spinoff. Franchise writer Gary Dauberman returned for the script, along with Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor, and previous scary nun Bonnie Aarons. The new movie added Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Charlotte Hope, and Sandra Teles to the cast. While a Conjuring movie would have taken a summer spot on the schedule, the studio released “The Nun” in September. The spinoff made $53M on opening weekend before grossing over $365.5M worldwide. Not bad for another spinoff created on an estimated $22M budget.
Now we have “Annabelle Comes Home, and Gary Dauberman is moving from writer to director. Franchise stars Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return to the cast, which also includes Mckenna Grace, Madison Iseman, and Katie Sarife. Unlike the previous Annabelle movies, which released in the fall or later summer, the new installment is taking The Conjuring’s place on the summer schedule and releasing in July. As the third installment to the “Annabelle” story, the doll returns front and center. “Annabelle Comes Home” is hoping to top the franchises’ $53M opening record, which was set by “The Nun,” and the film’s $365M worldwide gross.
The challenge of a late June or early July release date is the endless string of summer favorites. “Annabelle Comes Home” has a relaxed opening weekend to dominate the charts, but it will have to take on “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” “Midsommar,” “Crawl,” “Stuber,” “The Lion King,” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” throughout June.
“Annabelle Comes Home” hits theaters on June 26th.
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