Warner Bros. just announced that it has pushed New Line’s horror sequel The Conjuring 2, a follow-up to the acclaimed hit screamer that grossed an astounding $318M off a $20M production budget, back from 2015 to an unknown date in 2016. The release date change came coupled with an announcement that an unspecified horror title will take The Conjuring 2‘s previous October 23rd, 2015 slot.
Unlike recent spinoff Annabelle, which grossed around $167 million but got savaged by critics, this sequel will rejoin Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) as they investigate a new paranormal case. It’s expected that The Conjuring 2 will continue the original’s style of old-school scares inspired by real cases of alleged paranormal activity. As on the original, Chad and Carey Hayes are scripting, though Conjuring director James Wan is not expected to return.
However, one possible reason for the date change could be to potentially make the project more appealing to Wan. The director has been working tirelessly to put together Fast & Furious 7, a task complicated by the death of star Paul Walker midway through production. Giving Wan a chance to breathe once that gig is done might increase chances that he’ll come back for this sequel (and as Conjuring cinematographer John Leonetti’s subpar work as a director on Annabelle showed, the helmer is sorely needed).
Of course, Annabelle did make a tidy sum for Warner Bros., so the release date change could be in response to the studio’s increased awareness of the fact that self-contained horror films with no stars can still do big business. Maybe getting another smaller title out ahead of the buzzy sequel just made sense to execs.
Other horror titles in New Line’s lineup include Phil Claydon’s Crawlspace, about a widower (Michael Vartan) who moves into a haunted house with his daughter and new bride; and Superstition, directed by first-timers Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff, about a family whose new dwelling was once the site of a witch’s execution. Either of those films could easily take The Conjuring 2‘s old spot, and though it’s definitely upsetting that the film was delayed, if it means the return of James Wan, then I’m all for it.