After James Wan’s haunted-house frightfest The Conjuring broke out this past summer, both at the box office and with critics (I ranked it #9 on my list of the year’s best), New Line quickly realized that they had a potential horror franchise on their hands. Not content just to put a straightforward sequel into development, the studio also announced last November that it was moving forward with Annabelle, a spinoff based around a possessed porcelain doll. Now, we have news that the studio has locked some actors into the two leading roles.
Annabelle Wallis, best known for her roles as Jane Seymour in Showtime’s The Tudors and Grace Burgess in BBC’s Peaky Blinders, has signed on for the lead female role, according to The Wrap. She’ll share the screen with Ward Horton, who portrayed Dean Trayger on episodes of the soap One Life to Live and had a bit role in The Wolf of Wall Street. Both actors are almost complete unknowns, so New Line may be taking a slight risk by attaching them to what could be a huge property. On the other hand though, horror is perhaps the genre where name recognition matters least to audiences.
Both Wallis and Horton will be menaced by the titular doll, who played a memorable supporting role in The Conjuring. In that film, the doll first scared the pants off some apartment owners and then turned its demonic gaze on the young daughter of the film’s protagonists, Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). The Annabelle doll was singled out by many critics as one of The Conjuring‘s most bloodcurdling plot points, though whether it has the ability to anchor its own horror movie remains to be seen.
John Leonetti, the cinematographer on The Conjuring, is set to direct Annabelle, from a script by Gary Dauberman. Though Dauberman may be an unfamiliar name to many, he has previously done uncredited rewrites on films in two of New Line’s biggest horror franchises: Final Destination 5 and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The Conjuring producer Peter Safran is back on board in the same capacity for Annabelle, while Wan will serve as an executive producer.
Annabelle is aiming for a spring 2014 shoot, so audiences should expect to see the film soon. I’d imagine that New Line will avoid October, where Paranormal Activity 5 and Universal’s long-in-the-works Dracula Untold will already do battle for box office dollars. With that in mind, an early 2015 timeslot seems likely.
Are you interested in seeing a horror movie based entirely around Annabelle, or should the doll have been resigned to just one creepy appearance? Let us know in the comments section!