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Bette Midler Recalls Pitching Hocus Pocus 2 For Years And The Fun Moment She Realized It Could Really Happen

Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus 2
(Image credit: Disney+)

Hocus Pocus was the sequel that definitely wasn't originally expected. While the first movie was initially a box office bomb with mixed reviews, annual TV airings of this Disney fantasy flick made it a Halloween classic. Winifred Sanderson actress Bette Midler recently recalled pitching Hocus Pocus 2 for years, and the fun moment she realized it could really happen. 

The Disney classic that focuses on three witches from 300 years ago coming back to life has ended up being a part of the Halloween tradition, with its 25th anniversary on Freeform bringing in 8.2 million viewers. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Bette Midler spoke about the fun way she discovered that the sequel to Hocus Pocus could actually become a reality.  

Even when it became a phenomenon, [a sequel] wasn't considered. Ten years on, when I started seeing the returns, I was surprised, and I started making calls. We got no interest at all, and a few years after that, I remember I needed the costume, and I asked the studio to loan it to me, but they couldn't. My friend suggested that I go online, so I looked, and I was shocked because I'd never seen so much Hocus Pocus merch. I bought the costume, and I came as Winnie here and there, for this benefit or that benefit, and I realized there was something going on. As I watched it progress, I'd call the studio once a year to ask, "How about it?" It wasn't until about three years ago that they advocated for it, and movement started. It picked up when they decided that they wanted it to be on a streamer. They never looked back until they got their movie.

So that explains how she was able to revive her character when she sported her signature costume at the annual Halloween gala for the New York Restoration Project. It proves that not all actresses can leave the roles that helped them become iconic, even if it was over thirty years ago. There have been multiple attempts to revive the Sanderson Sisters for another movie. Midler has said for years how much she wanted a Hocus Pocus sequel. And she wasn’t happy when the studio was flirting with doing a remake instead. Can you blame her? No one can play the conniving yet zany leader of the Sanderson Sisters like Bette Midler can. 

As soon as it was confirmed that the original Hocus Pocus cast signed on for the sequel (and luckily not a remake), it was time for Hocus Pocus fans everywhere to plan a watch party. A first look revealed that clearly no time has passed as not only Midler but her co-stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy still look like their magical selves from thirty years ago. The First Wive's Club actress prepared to bring her character back to life again by perfecting her Old English accent and contributing the suggestion for the Sanderson Sisters to sing two big musical numbers. We’ll just have to see for ourselves if any of these new covers can top the legendary show-stopper “I Put a Spell On You.”

If Hocus Pocus 2 becomes a success, it’s a pondering question if this means we’ll get more movies. The “Wind Beneath My Wings” singer says that of course she’d be willing to sign on, but feels she doesn’t know how there could be more films. But that doesn't mean she won't continue taking any opportunity she can to reunite with her on-screen sisters.

It’s a good thing that Bette Midler discovered all of the Hocus Pocus merchandise surrounding the beloved Halloween classic or fans may not have gotten a sequel without her persistence. Watch Bette Midler revisit one of her most memorable roles in Hocus Pocus 2 coming to your Disney+ subscription on September 30th.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.