We're all aware of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe, even the Stephen King shared universe (and to a lesser extent The Dark Universe, which isn't working out quite so well last we heard).
But bubbling along in the background is another potentially massive shared universe that so far is doing a great job of making a lot of money from a series of relatively low-budget titles.
So what's it all about? Here's everything you need to know about the expanded horror franchise The Conjuring Universe, and how it'll be taking horror cinema by storm.
The Conjuring Universe: James Wan, the man behind the scares
The first Conjuring movie was something of a surprise hit in 2013. It's directed by James Wan who made a massive success of the Saw franchise (which just had an eighth movie) and the Insidious franchise (about to get a fourth), and who has more recently shifted over to massive blockbusters, directing Fast and Furious 7 and currently working on Aquaman for DC.
The Conjuring Universe is his baby and while he's only directed the two Conjuring movies, he's producer on the two Annabelle movies and a writer and producer on the upcoming Conjuring spin-offs The Nun and The Crooked Man, all of which will be made by New Line for Warner Bros.
Wan even says he'd be up for bringing all the characters together in an Avengers-style mash-up movie.
"If I could pull off an Avengers of the Conjuring universe, I would love for that to happen," he said. "We'll see. It could be fun."
The Conjuring Universe – Ed and Lorraine Warren, the real Ghostbusters
The Conjuring features real-life paranormal investigators Ed (played by Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (played by Vera Farmiga) who are looking into a supposed haunting at the Perron family household in the early '70s.
The movie took an impressive $318m worldwide from a budget of just $20m and was critically loved too. Wan followed up with a sequel in 2016, The Conjuring 2, which featured Ed and Lorraine investigating the Enfield Haunting – a case of an apparent poltergeist manifestation in North London in 1977. Again it was a storming success, taking $320m from $40m.
A third Conjuring movie is currently in development and is rumoured to feature Ed and Lorraine investigating a new case in the '80s. It's unlikely to be directed by Wan, though he'll still produce.
There's plenty of material to work with, which is part of the genius of the expanded universe (and makes us wonder why no one's done this before quite honestly). Ed and Lorraine's files include loads of notable cases that are as yet untapped (assuming Warner doesn't get into any legal trouble based on the fact that ghosts aren't real).
Most famously The Amityville Horror case (which has already inspired several movies) was one of theirs, though it's unlikely this'll be a focus of a standalone, partly because the story has been tapped several times before, most recently in Amityville: The Awakening. But also the Amityville case has already been referenced in the Conjuring universe – at the start of The Conjuring 2 we see Ed and Lorraine closing the case in the attic of the iconic house.
However, cases still very much available include the case of Arne Johnson, who pleaded 'Not Guilty by Reason of Demonic Possession' after murdering his landlord Alan Bono in '81, the alleged haunting of the Snedeker house in '86 (which has already been loosely adapted as the 2009 movie A Haunting in Connecticut), and the alleged demonic bothering of the Smurl family between 1974 and 1989.
The Conjuring Universe – the Annabelle doll
The Annabelle doll first featured in the prologue to The Conjuring and got her very own spin-off in 2014 after The Conjuring's wild success. The doll features in Ed and Lorraine's 'artefact room' – a room (based on a real place) filled with weird and potentially haunted memorabilia from all the couple's cases.
Annabelle was a prequel which told of the doll's origins. It was a financial hit, taking $257m off a teeny $6.5m, though critically it was a flop, scoring a stinky 29% on Rotten Tomatoes. And to be fair, it was rubbish.
After the huge success of The Conjuring 2, though, another Annabelle film followed, directed by David S Sandberg, who made Lights Out. Annabelle: Creation turned out to be something of a soft reboot – a prequel to the previous prequel which actually retconned the doll's origin story. This movie was much better, opening doors for more Annabelle outings in the future.
The Conjuring Universe spin-offs – The Nun
First appearing in The Conjuring 2, The Nun, aka the demon Valak, is a simple but effective monster who will get her own standalone on July 13, 2018.
The Nun spin-off, helpfully named The Nun, is directed by Corin Hardy who made the rather terrifying The Hallow and is still attached to The Crow Reborn last time we looked.
The Nun even made it into our scariest movie monsters shortlist simply for appearing unexpectedly and causing us to utter religious exclamations like "Oh Jesus Christ!" every time.
The Nun stars Taissa Farmiga, sister of Vera, as a nun (but not *the* nun as far as we're aware) in a movie which is set in 1952 in a monastery in Romania. This would place it three years before Annabelle: Creation, which takes place in 1955.
It's not clear how the much these films will cross over, though the demon nun, aka Valak, had two cameos in Annabelle: Creation. The first was in the background of a photo of sister Charlotte, the nice nun who brings the group of orphans to stay with the Mullins, taken at the Romanian Cârţa Monastery.
The demon nun then appears again in a post-credits sequence set in 1952. Bonnie Aarons, who plays Valak in The Conjuring 2 and Annabelle: Creation, will reprise her role.
The Conjuring Universe spin-offs – The Crooked Man
Back in June another Conjuring Universe spin-off was announced – a standalone for The Crooked Man, another monster who appeared in The Conjuring 2. This scary so-and-so stepped straight out of a zoetrope toy, morphed from the body of a dog and recited a disturbing rhyme before turning into possessed child Janet Hodgson.
The original rhyme goes like this:
There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile. He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile. He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse, And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
But in the Conjuring 2 the Crooked Man did a bit of freestyling, adding:
The crooked man stepped forth and rang the crooked bell and thus his crooked soul spiralled into a crooked Hell, murdered his crooked family and laughed a crooked laugh.
What insight that gives into the plot of this spin-off, we're not sure. Thus far appearances from the Crooked Cat and the Crooked Mouse have also been neither confirmed nor denied.
In fact we really don't know very much about this movie or how/when it will fit in with the Conjuring Universe. What we do know is that Mike Van Waes is working on the screenplay from a story by James Wan. There's not even any news yet of whether established creature performer Javier Botet, who played The Crooked Man in Conjuring 2, will return.
The Conjuring Universe spin-offs – The Nurse
Another possible branch of terror could come in the form of a naughty nurse. A competition held by Warner Bros around the release of Annabelle: Creation invited film-makers to create a short film that could fit into the Conjuring universe, and the winner of the United States category is so creepy, it could just become the next character to scare the hell out of fans.
Winning short The Nurse was made by Julian Terry in four days and is just two minutes long, but managed a good, solid scare that would definitely be at home in the Conjuring Universe.
No plans to turn this into a feature have been announced so far, but we wouldn't be in the least surprised if they were.
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