James Wan

Producer / Writer / Director

Birthdate – February 26, 1977 (47 Years Old)

Birthplace – Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

James Wan is one of the most successful horror director-producers of his generation as the co-creator of the Saw, Insidious, and Conjuring movie franchises, and is the first Asian filmmaker to make two movies grossing over $1 billion each at the worldwide box office.

After writing and directing (with Shannon Young) the unreleased movie Stygian (2000) as his debut, Wan with creative partner Leigh Whannell concocted Saw (2004), which marked his proper big-screen directorial start, co-starring Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, and Ken Leung, and which grossed a remarkable $104 million based on $1 million costs. The phenomenal success spawned one of horror’s most durable franchises, for which Wan was executive producer on Saw II (2005), Saw III (2006), Saw IV (2007), Saw V (2008), Saw VI (2009), Saw 3D (2010) and Saw X (2023); Wan took story credit on only one in this franchise run, which was Saw III.

James Wan didn’t repeat this hit status with the horror movie, Dead Silence (2007), with Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg, and Bob Gunton, which lost money for Universal Pictures. Wan was the director of another box-office failure ($16 million against $20 million costs) with 20th Century Fox’s vigilante thriller, Death Sentence (2007), starring Kevin Bacon, Garrett Hedlund, Kelly Preston, Aisha Tyler, and John Goodman. Wan reversed this downward trend three years later as director/editor of the Whannell-written Insidious (2010), starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey, matching Saw’s box-office record with a $100 million global gross (on $1.5 million costs) for distributor FilmDistrict.

Wan directed the Warner Bros. horror thriller, The Conjuring (2013), spawning yet another long-running franchise with a spectacular $319.5 million worldwide gross, and co-starring Vera Farmiga, Wilson, Ron Livingston, and Lili Taylor. James Wan returned to the building Insidious franchise as director and story writer of Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013), with new cast members Lin Shaye and Ty Simpkins, which earned $162 million globally, leading to further movies in the series for which Wan was producer only, including Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015), Insidious: The Last Key (2018), and Insidious: The Red Door (2023), grossing a cumulative $470 million worldwide.

In a major shift of genres, Wan was director only of the seventh movie in the Fast & Furious franchise, Furious 7 (2015), proving to be a mega-hit with a powerhouse $1.5 billion global take, and co-starring Vin Diesel, the late Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Djimon Hounsou, and Kurt Russell. Wan again departed from his horror roots as director and story writer of the DC Comics franchise project, Aquaman (2018), starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman, and becoming the highest-grossing DC Comics movie with a worldwide gross of $1.15 billion.

James Wan returned to horror, with several goofy twists, as director/producer/story writer of Malignant (2021), co-starring Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, and Michole Briana White and released in a simultaneous theatrical and streaming pattern by Warner Bros., dampening theatrical box-office with only a $35 million return. Wan returned to DC Comics to direct and produce (as well as taking a story credit) the long-delayed and complicated production of the $205-budgeted sequel, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023), reuniting the original cast but prominently starring Momoa and Wilson.

Since 2014, James Wan has been busier as a producer of a string of largely money-making horror movies and franchises, including Annabelle (2014), Demonic (2015), Lights Out (2016), Annabelle: Creation (2017), The Curse of La Llorona (2019), Mortal Kombat (2021), There’s Someone Inside Your House (2021), The Nun II (2023), Night Swim (2024), Salem’s Lot (date to be announced), The Tommyknockers (date to be announced), Mortal Kombat (date to be announced), and Border Patrol (date to be announced). Wan was also a story writer and producer on the $366-million-grossing The Nun (2018), as well as Annabelle, Comes Home (2019), The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021), and Universal’s hit horror movie, the $181-million-grossing M3GAN (2022).

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Personal Details

James Wan was born in Kuching, in the Sarawak province of Malaysia, and was raised by his parents in both Malaysia and then in Perth, Australia, where his family moved when he was seven years old. Wan’s higher education began at Lake Tuggeranong College in Canberra, Australia. After leaving the college and returning to Perth, Wan then attended and graduated from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology with a B.A. in media in 1999. Wan has been married to Romanian actor Ingrid Bisu since 2019; the couple has no children. Wan’s height is 5’ 3 ½ ”. Wan’s estimated net worth is $70 million.

Filmography

Malignant

Malignant (2021)

Aquaman

Writer (2018)

Furious 7

Director (2015)

Insidious: Chapter 2

(2013)

Saw: 10th Anniversary Release

(2014)

The Conjuring

(2013)

The Conjuring 2

Producer (2016)

Some Facts About James Wan

Shingle: James Wan’s production company is Atomic Monster, situated at New Line Pictures, and geared to produce horror, sci-fi, and comedy movies and TV series.

Unmade: For all his myriad realized and in-the-works projects, Wan has been involved in several proposed and canceled movies or movies for which he was eventually not involved, including X-Ray (with partner Leigh Whannel), The Rocketeer remake for Disney, a MacGyver movie (he directed and executive-produced the pilot episode of the TV series), Robotech, and an Aquaman spinoff titled The Trench.

Awards

Nominee, Best Director, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Awards (2019); Two-time Winner, Best Wide-Release Film/Fangoria Horror Hall of Fame, Fangoria Chainsaw Awards (2014); Winner, Fastest time for a movie to gross $1 billion at the global box office, Guinness World Record Awards (2015).