Since debuting in the summer of 2013, The Conjuring Universe has gone on to become the single highest-grossing horror franchise in the history of cinema, with total box office takings north of $1.9 billion. And with third installment in the main series The Devil Made Me Do It hitting theaters and HBO Max next Friday, a lot of fans will no doubt be heading back into the lore for a refresher course.
Through the various sequels, prequels and spinoffs, there’ve been some great movies, a few perfectly acceptable ones and the inevitable dud or two, but credit should still go to architect James Wan for crafting an interconnected mythology predicated on supernatural jump scares and demonic possessions that Warner Bros. can continue to milk for every penny it’s worth.
As is the case with any long-running shared universe, the timeline is far from chronological, but if you want to watch The Conjuring story unfold in its entirety linearly, then you’ll need to start off with The Nun. The franchise’s single biggest commercial hit to date unfolds in 1950s Romania and puts Valek the Defiler in the limelight, followed by 1955-set origin story Annabelle: Creation. Next up is the first outing for the titular creepy doll, which takes place in 1967, before the Warrens enter the picture in 1971 via The Conjuring.
Annabelle Comes Home then focuses on the paranormal investigators’ daughter and tells a tale set in 1972, with The Devil Made Me Do It director Michael Chaves’ The Curse of La Llorona happening just one year later in 1973. Finally, Wan’s The Conjuring 2 jumps forward a little to 1977 and the upcoming third outing leaps again to 1981, providing over three decades of frights and things that go bump in the night as part of The Conjuring Universe timeline.