The Conjuring Universe is Hollywood’s second most successful shared universe

The shared universe has been something of a holy grail for Hollywood ever since Marvel Studios showed just how lucrative it can be with the release of The Avengers in 2012.

However, no other studio has managed to build a connected franchise with the same success. The past decade has been adorned with the shells of failed shared universes: the dark universe, the Valiant Cinematic Universe, the Robin Hood universe. With the release of Aquaman and the Lost KingdomWarner Bros. will close the shutters on the current version of their shared universe of DC charactersonly to try again in 2025 with new continuity.

However, the release of The nun 2 This weekend commemorates one of Hollywood’s most tacitly successful experiments in shared universe franchising. Warner Brothers’ incantation The universe is very rarely matched in the same breath with superhero competitors like the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), or the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters (the SPUMC), but it is an undeniable success.

As the name of this shared universe suggests, it began with James Wan’s The incantation. The incantation was a PG-13 horror film that was also a major summer blockbuster. It was released in July 2013 and cleaned up at the box office. It deserves it $319 million on a $20 million budget. In absolute numbers, the import performance was in the middle The top 20 at the end of the yearsurpassing more conventional blockbusters like The Wolverine And G.I. Joe – Billing. It was also on a much more reasonable budget.

Horror has always been a lucrative genre. Budgets are usually reasonable, making it easier to turn a profit. There is always more than that a young and enthusiastic audience for horror films. However, in recent years the genre has entered a realm normally reserved for more traditional blockbusters. Blumhouse spent a lot of money the recent Halloween trilogy starring Jamie Lee Curtis and directed by David Gordon Green. They are reportedly doing the same thing the new exorcist trilogy.

The shared Conjuring universe has a lesson in Hollywood's franchise thirst: if you build it well, they'll keep coming back.

incantation Director James Wan certainly understands that. The incantation wasn’t his first horror franchise. It wasn’t even his second horror franchise. Wan had started it with Leigh Whannell Seen Series that is releasing its tenth installment this year. Three years before directing The incantationWan conducted insidious, which recently published its fifth entry. Wan is undoubtedly a crowd pleaser. He would continue to direct Aquamanthe only DCEU film to generate any revenue over $1 billion.

The success of The incantation a sequel was almost certain. While The incantation 2 arrived in June 2016 and was hit in theaters by John R. Leonettis Annabelle. This was a spin off of The incantation, a prequel centered on a demonic doll that appeared in a glass case in the basement of Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren’s (Vera Farmiga) home. The film quickly hit theaters in October 2014 and returned there $257 million on a budget of $6.5 million.

When Wan returned to the franchise with The incantation 2fresh from the director angry 7He brought blockbuster energy to the series. The incantation 2 doubled the budget of the original a whopping $40 million. It came out in June 2016, in the middle of summer. The running time was a luxurious two and a half hours, a length more in keeping with a superhero epic than a horror sequel. It was spectacular too. The incantation 2 is the rare horror film that features a high-stakes car chase from a train station.

The incantation The franchise consists of nine films over a decade. These nine films include two trilogies: the incantation trilogy and the Annabelle Trilogy. The remaining three films consist of the two nun movies and The Curse of La Llorona. That might not sound particularly impressive. After all, horror franchises like that Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street Series tend to spawn a large number of sequels, prequels, and reboots. Sometimes there is even confusing internal continuities.

However, these franchises tend to function in a linear fashion. They are based on specific brands and characters. Significantly, as the Halloween Franchise tried to escape Michael Myers with it Halloween III: Season of the Witchthe movie was like this (unfair) was vilified by fans for including Michael Myers’ name in the series’ title next three movies to reassure potential viewers that these weren’t spin-offs or side effects. Horror franchises are traditionally very linear.

The shared Conjuring universe has a lesson in Hollywood's franchise thirst: if you build it well, they'll keep coming back.

This also applies to series like Seenwho tend to jump back and forth on their own timeline. Seen is another example of a franchise that has undergone a course correction after being stretched too far. The recent Spiral Starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, the film was the first not to feature main villain John Kramer (Tobin Bell). That didn’t go over well, and so on Saw X Director Kevin Greutert promised that Saw X will be included: “more [Tobin Bell as John Kramer] than in any other Seen.”

That’s what counts incantation Franchise that is so interesting as an intersection between traditional horror cinema and modern franchise construction. This isn’t just a random grouping of different films or franchises cynically bundled together under a common brand. The nine entries in the shared horror universe duly intersect and overlap, but at the same time are reasonably self-contained, just like the Marvel Studios-produced films.

For example, Bonnie Aarons plays the eponymous sister in the two nun films, but also appears in The incantation 2 And Annabelle: Creation. Tony Amendola plays Father Perez in both roles Annabelle And The Curse of La Llorona. Annabelle comes home is essentially a stealth entry incantation series, located between The incantation And The incantation 2with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprising their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren.

The franchise features a surprisingly detailed and intricate internal continuity. It covers an impressive section of the history of The nun discontinued in 1952 The incantation: The devil made me do this takes place in 1981. The franchise is designed to allow a casual viewer to drop in and drop out based on personal preference, but packs an impressive amount of backstory. The connections may not exist quite as obvious as the dense web of references that binds superhero universes together, but they are there.

There’s even a sense of continuity behind the scenes between films. The nun Franchise stars Taissa Farmiga, sister of incantation Director Vera Farmiga. Gary Dauberman wrote all three Annabelle films and directing Annabelle comes homewrote The nunand was a producer at The Curse of La Llorona. Michael Chaves has directed three of the four franchises The Curse of La Llorona, The devil made me do itAnd The nun 2.

This franchise was solid successful for Warner Bros. The first eight films in the series have box office $2.1 billion in total from a total budget of $179.5 million. That’s an 11.7x return on investment. In contrast, the MCU has generated revenue a total of $29.5 billion from a total budget of $6.4 billion, a significantly lower return on investment of 4.6x. The DCEU has generated revenue a total of $6.7 billion from a total budget of $2.5 billionresulting in an even more modest ROI of 2.7x.

The shared Conjuring universe has a lesson in Hollywood's franchise thirst: if you build it well, they'll keep coming back.

It’s strange that the incantation is never mentioned in these conversations as it offers an important lesson on how best to build these lavish franchises. horror movies are known to be vilified by criticism And are often overlooked when presenting awards. It’s that rare genre where there’s a clear and consistent dissonance between what criticism And audience Answer to. However, by the standards of horror cinema, that’s the case incantation Franchise is remarkably well rated.

The incantation, The incantation 2, Annabelle: CreationAnd Annabelle comes home All received positive reviews from critics. Even The devil made me do it only got a 5% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience was also enthusiastic. CinemaScore ignores self-selective and playable online metrics and offers the best indication of how the audience at a theatrical screening responded to a particular film. Put in context, the incantation Franchise has done very well.

“Until a year or two ago, a great score for a horror movie would have been a B- even if it was good,” said research analyst Harold Mintz in 2017. According to Mintz, The incantation was the first horror to earn an A-. The incantation 2 Voted this note. Considering this curve, Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, Annabelle comes home And The incantation: The devil made me do this All received audience ratings of “B-” or higher according to CinemaScore, meeting or exceeding Mantz’s threshold for a “great score”.

In short, while mileage varies and taste is subjective, the incantation The franchise consists largely of well-made horror films. The brand has built audience trust through the quality and relative consistency of its production, especially given the difficult relationship audiences and critics can have with the horror genre. The incantation Universe has been successful in large part because it has produced broadly accessible films that appeal to audiences and critics alike.

This was also the model the MCU used in its early days. iron man, ThorAnd Captain America: The First Avenger didn’t upset the world, but they received positive reviews and built trust with audiences. In the rush to build massive shared universes, many studios have forgotten this, arguably including Marvel Studios itself incantation remains Hollywood’s second most successful shared universe because they know a wall is only as strong as the bricks that make it up.

field of dreams was a ghost story with the famous argument, “If you build it, they will come.” The incantation Franchise is a ghost story that teaches a lesson to the larger industry. If you build it up well, they will keep coming back.

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