James Wan

Director James Wan, left, and Cary Elwes on the set of "Saw." (Greg Gayne / Lions Gate Films / September 12, 2013)

Lin Shaye, who has acted for Wan in both "Insidious" films, said: "He's one of the most guileless people I've ever met. He has a sly sense of humor and he is a fantastic voyeur."

Before Wan and Blum could reteam on "Insidious: Chapter 2," the director went off to make "The Conjuring" for Warner Bros., about a couple (played by Wilson and Vera Farmiga) of paranormal investigators who might have met their match with a 1970s family that seems to attract poltergeists.

"It was to me the best of both worlds," Wan said of his return to a big studio. "I got the creative freedom I wanted, but I had the resources to make the film properly."

ON LOCATION: Where the cameras roll       

Released against three far more expensive films — "Turbo," "Red 2" and "R.I.P.D." — Wan's movie easily won the weekend and was as popular overseas as it was domestically.

"Insidious: Chapter 2," which picks up where the last movie ended and includes the first film's signature netherworld for souls of the dead called "The Further," could gross as much as $30 million in its debut weekend, easily trouncing Robert De Niro's crime comedy "The Family," according to audience tracking surveys. The sequel, which also was produced by Blum and will be released by FilmDistrict, cost about $5 million.

That's pocket change compared to Wan's next movie, Universal's "Fast & Furious 7."

The sixth episode in Universal's Vin Diesel muscle car franchise cost about $160 million and will soon surpass $800 million in worldwide ticket sales; Wan is taking over for the 39-year-old Lin, who directed the last four installments. Wan doesn't have much time to prepare; "Fast & Furious 7" is scheduled to be released next July, which will mean the director will have to rush through post-production to complete all of his visual effects.

Wan said that he's always wanted to direct a huge popcorn title like the "Fast & Furious" films. "At heart, I'm a huge action fan — a big junkie of spectacle films," he said. "It's very hard — a lot of hard work and very difficult. But it's what I've always wanted to do.

"I've been very calculating to some degree with the films that I do, because I know where I want to go."