When the movie was shown in the Philippines, some cinemas had to hire Catholic priests to bless the viewers before showing it. This was due to some viewers having reported a "Negative Presence" after watching the film. The priests also provided spiritual and psychological help to the viewers.
Eight generations of families lived and died in the house before the Perrons moved in. Andrea Perron suggested that some of the spirits from the families never left. Deaths included two documented suicides, a poisoning death, the rape and murder of an 11-year old girl, two drownings, and the passing of four men who froze to death. Most deaths occurred within the Arnold family, from which Bathsheba Sherman was descended.
The film was given an R rating by the MPAA. The filmmakers had thought the final cut had a chance of getting the more-box office friendly PG-13 rating, and asked the ratings board for clarification. The MPAA said simply that the film was so scary that there were no cuts or edits possible that would make it a viable PG-13 film; the filmmakers did not want to alter the film's tone and accepted the R rating without any appeals.
The film contains no sex or nudity, little profanity, tame and mostly bloodless violence, and brief depictions of alcohol and no smoking, yet it received an R rating. This was solely for its scare factor alone.
The real Lorraine Warren and Andrea Perron served as consultants to director James Wan and the screenwriters. They both claim the movie is accurate to the real story of what happened to the Perrons during the ten years they lived in the farmhouse.
The state of Rhode Island does not require home sellers to disclose documented histories of a location's criminal activity (let alone alleged paranormal and supernatural hauntings) to potential buyers. This is why the Perrons were unaware of all previous events.
The real Annabelle doll was actually a used Raggedy Ann doll that was bought by Donna's mother at a hobby shop and was known for not only leaving notes on parchment when there was no parchment around but also attacked a friend named Lou by mysteriously leaving claw marks on his chest. The makers of the movie decided to make a more sinister-looking doll of porcelain for the movie.
The film broke box office records after bringing in a total of $41 million during its opening weekend. It stands as the third highest-grossing opening weekend for an R-rated horror film behind Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) and Hannibal (2001). The Conjuring made a total of $137 million at the domestic box office.
Director James Wan was working on the script one late night. He had just adopted a new puppy, who started staring at a supposedly empty side of the room and began to growl aggressively. Wan stated that his dog's head then followed something all across the room, but he did not see anything.
This film not only marked the second time composer Joseph Bishara has scored a James Wan-directed film, but it was the second time he had played a demon figure for Wan. He portrayed the demon embodiment of Bathsheba Sherman and previously played a lipstick-faced demon in Insidious (2010). Patrick Wilson stars in both Insidious and The Conjuring.
Andrea Perron wrote a three-part book based on her experiences in the house titled "House of Darkness, House of Light". Experiences written about in her book also appear in the film. Perron cites the film as a work of art and not a work of fiction.
The production initially scouted a number of farmhouses to shoot in the Cape Fear region of South Eastern North Carolina, until they found the house featured in the movie. It is located on the Black River in Pender County. They only filmed the exterior of the home. All interior shots were filmed on set at Screen Gem Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina.
When the Hayes brothers and Lorraine Warren (a real-life demonologist) would chat on the phone about the script, they kept getting cut off by weird sounds and a lot of static. Then, out of nowhere, the line would suddenly go dead.
The mother of the Perron family claimed to have felt the same strange dark presence, similar to when she first experienced the occurrences depicted in the film. She later tripped and suffered some wounds, which put her in the hospital.
In the scene where the Warrens showed students footage of an exorcism in the auditorium, the priest was played by George Zervos: chair of the Philosophy and Religion department at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.
In the scene when the Warrens first meet the five daughters, the girls are watching an episode of The Brady Bunch. The scene features Maureen McCormick, Eve Plumb and Susan Olsen. Actress Shanley Caswell who plays eldest daughter Andrea starred alongside McCormick as stepdaughter/stepmother in a film previous to this one.
The real Bathsheba Sherman was suspected of witchcraft and of killing an infant child, but her name was legally cleared after being found not guilty by a court of law. She died of natural causes in 1885, not by hanging as the movie portrays. She is buried in Harrisville, Rhode Island.
If you listen closely to Lorraine's vision in the cellar as she tries to find any presences in the house, you can hear screams and a "No" said by Christine from her sleeping encounter, as well as a whispered "Look what she made me do," which is the voice of the servant spirit who Brad witnesses in the laundry room.