Not only is James Wan one of the 21st Century’s foremost purveyors of cinematic horror, but the filmmaker also knows his way around a franchise or two. Whether by accident or design, almost everything the writer, director and producer touches is either part of a multi-film series, or ends up launching one.
His breakout feature Saw led to a billion-dollar behemoth that’s still going strong, with Spiral being followed by another sequel and possibly even a TV show, while The Conjuring Universe is the highest-grossing brand in the history of big-screen horror.
On top of that, he helmed the first Insidious – star Patrick Wilson was announced to be directing the fifth last year – and tackled Fast & Furious 7 before boarding the DCEU to deliver Aquaman. This made him, among other things, the only director not named James Cameron to call the shots on two movies from different franchises that earned over a billion dollars at the box office.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Wan admitted his upcoming original horror Malignant has the potential for sequels, although he isn’t looking that far ahead just yet.
“Ultimately anything can become a franchise. They will find a way. Look at Saw. When Leigh Whannell and I made Saw, we were like, ‘Jigsaw gets up and he shuts the door. The end’. Then when the movie did so well, the producers and studio were like, “Guys, we have to make another one’. So, yes, Malignant could become a franchise, but I set out to just make this movie. Having said that, when I make one film, I do think of a bigger umbrella story. I’m always just telling a section of this bigger story.”
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Wan has an excellent working relationship with Warner Bros. and created the lucrative Conjuring cash cow for the studio, so if Malignant draws strong reviews and earns decent money when it comes to theaters and HBO Max this Friday, the 44-year-old could add yet another property to his ever-expanding stable.