‘Malignant’: James Wan Sees Franchise Potential in His New Horror Movie

James Wan’s newest horror movie is called Malignant. He directs a screenplay written by Akela Cooper, who’s also currently attached to write The Nun 2. The story follows a woman named Madison (Annabelle Wallis). She suffers from horrifying visions of murders. She initially believes that they’re just really bad nightmares, but soon discovers that they’re real. Malignant plays in theaters and on HBO Max on Sept. 10.

‘Malignant’ is James Wan’s return to horror

'Malignant' director James Wan on set
James Wan | Ron Batzdorff/Warner Bros.

Wan instantly attracted attention after Saw premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie would end up being launched into a franchise, although he only directed the original installment. The movie would also bring the “torture porn” sub-genre into the spotlight.

Next, he stepped into the world of the paranormal with movies such as Dead Silence, Insidious, and The Conjuring. Two of the three launched sequels.

Death Sentence is Wan’s first action movie, but he further explored the genre with Furious 7. He also made the DC Extended Universe feature titled Aquaman. The filmmaker is currently working on the sequel named Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

Malignant will be Wan’s first horror movie since making the terrifying The Conjuring 2.

‘Malignant’ franchise potential

Wan talked about Malignant with Games Radar. There’s potential that Warner Bros. may want to make more movies in this universe if the fans prove that’s what they want. “Ultimately anything can become a franchise,” Wan said. “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.’ 

Saw truly captured lightning in a bottle. They’re inexpensive horror movies that went on to be guaranteed successes. Lionsgate found a huge opportunity with Saw. The franchise continues to be significant for the genre itself.

Wan continued: “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.”

Wan put all of his energy into making Malignant but left the door open for more content within this universe. However, he didn’t mention if he’d be interested in directing potential sequels himself or if he’d prefer to pass the torch.

James Wan’s franchise track record

There are few filmmakers who have been able to ignite multiple franchises. However, Wan has succeeded in this feat. Saw is particularly notable, given that it inspired an entire sub-genre filled with copycats over the years. But, that isn’t to say that his other ones aren’t substantial.

Insidious marks his second franchise. He only directed the first two chapters, but he will be returning to co-direct Insidious: The Dark Realm. However, this isn’t the only time that the filmmaker would pursue the paranormal.

The Conjuring universe has the potential to keep spawning installments as long as audiences are willing to go see them. Ed and Lorraine Warren’s case files have been a good starting point, but the studio has proven that they’re more than willing to explore spinoff territory. The Nun was based on the entity from a previous installment, which will also be getting a sequel of its own.

Malignant will be available in theaters and on HBO Max on Sept. 10.

RELATED: ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’: Why James Wan Moved the Film Out of a Haunted House