A few weeks ago, director Corin Hardy revealed he had started work on The Nun, although it was never clarified if shooting had actually began. Today we have word that the first cast member has come aboard, with Demian Bichir signing on to star in this spin-off of New Line's popular Conjuring franchise. We also have a few new photos from Corin Hardy, who has been scouting locations in Romania, ahead of the start of principal photography sometime this summer.

The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Demian Bichir is playing Father Burke, a priest who is sent by the church in Rome to investigate the mysterious murder of a nun. The title character was first introduced in The Conjuring 2, although this demonic nun was added to the movie at the last minute, just months before it was set to be released. Writer-director James Wan's original cut featured a supernatural villain that was just a demon with massive horns, before the director had a vision to change this villain to the demonic nun that scared audiences worldwide.

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James Wan ultimately convinced New Line Cinema to let him undergo reshoots in March 2016, three months before the June 10 opening, when he filmed a new scene where Patrick Wilson's Ed Warren has painted a nun, instead of a demon. Another much more complex scene was filmed during these reshoots, where Vera Farmiga's Lorraine Warren watched the nun's shadow climb up the wall and align itself with the painting. Bonnie Aarons portrayed the nun in The Conjuring 2, with this scene also used for an epic Conjuring 2 prank in Brazil last summer, just ahead of the movie's release. The Conjuring 2 would go on to make $320.2 million worldwide from just a $40 million budget.

Corin Hardy came aboard to direct this Conjuring spin-off in February, which will now be his next project since his long-gestating reboot of The Crow has been delayed once again, to find a new studio home after breaking free from Relativity Media as it emerges from bankruptcy. New Line has set a July 13, 2018 release date for The Nun, putting it up against Sony's Hotel Transylvania 3 and Universal's Skyscraper. This project will be the second Conjuring spin-off, following the 2014 hit Annabelle, which earned $256.8 million worldwide from just a $6.5 million budget, which spawned the upcoming follow-up Annabelle: Creation, arriving in theaters August 11.

Corin Hardy is directing from a script by Gary Dauberman, who wrote both Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation for New Line, and The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 director James Wan. Peter Safran is also producing alongside James Wan. Demian Bichir has two major studio movies coming out in back-to-back weeks, with Universal's Lowriders arriving in theaters May 12, and 20th Century Fox's Alien: Covenant arriving on May 19. Take a look at the new photos Corin Hardy posted on Twitter, along with a confirmation of Demian Bichir's casting, as we wait for more on The Nun spin-off.