In the summer of 1993, Disney’s wicked-witch movie hocus pocus, starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker, was released in theaters to scathing reviews and a disappointing box office. Nearly 30 years later, the film has gained cult status due to being aired on cable TV every October for the past two decades. Thanks to a devoted fan base, the Sanderson sisters are back for a sequel and ready to put a spell on the citizens of Salem once again in the highly anticipated Hocus Pocus 2.
“To be completely honest, for the past 28 years, I didn’t think much about the sequel,” Parker said at the film’s New York premiere on Tuesday night. “I wasn’t involved in the conversations. When I found out it was going to happen, I was in shock. Bette was the person who imagined the idea for years and thought that this would all happen. She couldn’t be deterred from the idea, and I admire her so much for believing and fighting for the sequel. The lesson is, listen to the Divine Miss M. ela She knows what ela works and how to get it done.”
Midler explained that 10 years after the original movie’s release, she began to notice the popularity of hocus pocus merchandise. She realized there was a “huge interest” and “demand” for a second installment featuring the Sanderson witches, she said.
“As the years have gone by, the idea of revisiting the movie kind of snowballed. So many people have come up to me and said they grew up watching the movie,” said Midler on the arrivals carpet. “And the amount of hocus pocus customs and merchandise I saw was shocking. I went online and even bought a Winifred custom for myself for a benefit I did. So I started making calls to the studio. We thought that it had a life, but there was no interest for a few years. It wasn’t until three years ago [that] the movement started and it got picked up for the streamer. It’s been the most unexpected and rewarding role of my career. It just keeps going.”
Receiving a greenlight from Disney for the sequel, Midler finally reunited with Parker and Najimy on the hocus pocus 2 set in Rhode Island. “It was a completely bizarre experience,” recalled Midler. “The dynamic between the three of us was exactly the same as it was nearly 30 years ago. It was like time had never passed. We immediately fell into our old characters. It’s as if these characters have lived with us the entire time. It’s so strange.”
“It’s really a lovely treat,” said Najimy about playing the character Mary Sanderson again. “We all do many projects, and we never know which ones are going to be a hit. People ask me about hocus pocus the most. So to come back and be with Bette and Sarah Jessica and laugh at the ridiculousness, singing and flying, was so much fun.”
Streaming on Disney+ on September 30, hocus pocus 2 explores the history of the Sanderson sisters as young girls in the 1600s—and their eventual turn to witchcraft. The movie then fast-forwards to modern-day Salem, Massachusetts, where two high school students (gossip Girl‘s Whitney Peak and newcomer Belissa Escobedo) accidentally light the Black Flame candle, resurrecting the menacing 17th-century sisters in 2022. The target of the witches’ revenge? Salem’s Mayor (Tony Hale), a descendant of an evil reverend from the 1600s.
Director Anne Fletcher promised that the sequel is just as fun and entertaining as the original, but noted that changes have been made to keep the story line fresh and contemporary.
“You want to do right by the fans,” she said. “They have been championing at the bit for so long and wanting to be with these characters. You want to give them the best and do the right thing. We stayed true to the characters. The tone and the spirit is the same as the first movie. It’s cheeky and fun, but with some modern-day twists.”
One modern update is the fleet of cleaning tools that the sisters use to fly through the night sky. Parker’s Sarah Sanderson has replaced her mop with a Swiffer, while Mary has upgraded her vacuum with two Roombas instead.
“The flying scenes were by far my favorite to shoot. I could do it all day,” said Najimy. “I’ve jumped out of airplanes twice. I love the whole feeling of being in the air and floating in the air. I wish we had more flying in the movie. This time I have Roombas on my feet, which is so funny. We practiced for a couple of weeks to get back into it, and I literally wanted it to never stop.”
The Historic Witches also got a bit of a modern spin. Sarah Sanderson, for example, is more opinionated and stands up for herself. “Ela She’s a loyal sister who deserves to be heard, and she speaks up a little more and challenges Winifred,” said Parker, who arrived at the premiere with her husband, Matthew Broderick, and their 13-year-old twin daughters, Tabitha and Marion. “She’s like, Listen, I’m here. She is a good sister. She is a part of this team and a good collaborator.”
Winifred’s signature buckteeth, an iconic costume choice from the original film, have not changed, however. Midler once again wears prosthetic teeth along with a fake nose.
“The hard thing is making the teeth. I had to sit for three molds. Talking with them is just mechanics,” said the multi-award-winning actor. “But wearing the teeth immediately got me back into character. The real challenge was saying a lot of thou, thy, and thine. I had to sound the same with the accent from the original. Once I got the accent, I was fully transformed back into Winnie and was ready to wreak some havoc.”