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Hocus Pocus didn’t make that big of a splash when it hit theaters in 1993, but thanks to its numerous airings each Halloween season on Disney Channel and Freeform, it’s been cemented as a cult classic for a while now. Well, almost 30 years after Hocus Pocus’ release, it’s official: Hocus Pocus 2 is indeed on the way. Not only that, but Bette Middler is confirmed to be returning alongside a few other familiar faces.
While it already been confirmed back in December 2020 that Hocus Pocus 2 was in development for Disney+, the Mouse House announced today that the long-awaited sequel will exclusively premiere on its streaming platform sometime in 2022. For those of you who enjoyed the sorcerous shenanigans of the Sanderson sisters the first time around, you can take comfort that Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy will return as Winifred, Sarah and Mary, respectively. The actresses commemorated their role reprisals with the following social media messages:
There’s also been a few behind-the-scenes changes on Hocus Pocus 2. Previously Hairspray’s Adam Shankman was set to direct the sequel, but because he’s now busy working on Disenchanted, he’s set the helming reins down. That said, he’s still attached as an executive producer alongside Ralph Winter and David Kirschner, while Steven Haft will serve as co-producer. The Proposal’s Anne Fletcher will now take over directorial duties from Shankman. The two of them met in 1990 when they were dancers for that year’s Academy Awards broadcast, and Shankman went on to hire Fletcher as his assistant choreographer for numerous projects. Fletcher made her directorial debut with 2006’s Step Up, which Shankman produced.
So now that all the talent officially announced so far for Hocus Pocus 2 has been laid out, what can we actually expect from the sequel? Well, the Disney+ movie will follow three young women who accidentally bring the Sanderson sisters back to Salem, Massachusetts, and must work fast to prevent the child-hungry witches from “wreaking a new kind of havoc on the world.” Considering how much time has passed since the first Hocus Pocus movie came out, it’ll be interesting to see how Hocus Pocus 2 walks that fine line of appealing to fans of the original, while still being appealing enough to hook in newcomers who’ve never seen the Sanderson sisters’ previous outing.
Now obviously having Winifred, Sarah and Mary Sanderson around is key to delivering a Hocus Pocus sequel, but will any other familiar faces from the first movie return? Officially speaking, no other actors for Hocus Pocus 2 have been announced yet. That being said, Thora Birch, who played Dani Dennison in Hocus Pocus, tweeted this after today’s Hocus Pocus 2 news broke.
While it’s possible that Thora Birch was simply sharing her excitement that Hocus Pocus 2 will come out next year, one can’t help but wonder if she’s teasing a role reprisal. After all, if you want to appeal to as many Hocus Pocus fans as possible, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to bring back more of the original cast, and Birch is still acting nowadays, most recently recurring on The Walking Dead. On the other hand, Omri Katz, who played Deni’s sister Max, retired from acting, but if Birch does indeed return for Hocus Pocus 2, maybe there’s a chance he could step back on screen one more time, even if it’s just for a cameo.