It’s Hocus Pocus season, everyone! After a long wait, the Sanderson sisters are back in Hocus Pocus 2. The three iconic witches — Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy — are reprising the legendary roles of Winifred, Sarah, and Mary Sanderson in the 2022 sequel.
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With so much talk about Hocus Pocus 2, the world already wants to know: will there be a Hocus Pocus 3? Hocus Pocus 2 star Whitney Peak told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY that she would be “down” to return for a third movie. Also, the ladies playing the Sanderson trio also revealed their thoughts about reprising their iconic roles again in a third movie.
Hocus Pocus 2 is the best Halloween gift to us all. From the latest on more Hocus Pocus to who is returning, HollywoodLife has all the latest updates about Hocus Pocus 2.
Hocus Pocus 2 Reviews
The reviews are in and they are wicked good. Hocus Pocus 2 is a New York Times “Critic’s Pick.” The critics write that the sequel “manages to capture the same hokey magic of the original while creatively updating its humor.”
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RogerEbert.com wrote, “The challenge for the sequel to a beloved film is maintaining enough of the original to make the fans happy without being too repetitive or confusing newcomers, and Hocus Pocus 2 gets that just right. The highlights of the first film are celebrated (there’s a delightful musical number) and there are some very funny moments, including a Sanderson sisters costume competition.”
Hocus Pocus fans began sounding off about the filming after its debut on September 30. Hocus Pocus 2 began trending on Twitter early in the morning of the release date. Here’s what the fans had to say:
@BetteMidler @SJP @kathynajimy knocked it right out of the park and into another park, and then another park and another park all the way to hopefully making a Hocus Pocus 3? ❤️👏🏻 #HocusPocus2 @HocusPocusMovie #HOCUSPOCUS3
— Joseph Keith Walsh (@HouseOfWalsh) September 30, 2022
These girls playing the young witches in #HocusPocus2 are amazing! They’ve got their facial expressions and body language down!
— Glenys the Menace (@glenpaddy) September 30, 2022
Can’t hold a candle to the original but you know what it was fun, I wasnt hyped on the ending with this weird happy ending for Winifred but in the end I liked it #HocusPocus2
— Msikkle (@Msikkle) September 30, 2022
Hocus Pocus 2 Release Date
Hocus Pocus 2 was released on September 30, 2022, as part of Disney+’s Hallowstream celebration. It’s the perfect way to kick off the Halloween season! A teaser trailer dropped in June 2022 that featured the Sanderson sisters back in Salem. “Pack up your children. Yes, Salem, we’re back!” Winifred announces in the trailer.
Producer Adam Shankman revealed on January 27, 2022, that Hocus Pocus 2 had wrapped filming. In celebration of the film’s wrap, Adam noted that the sequel would be released around Halloween. “SISTAAAAAHHHHSSS! Aaaaand that’s a WRAP!!! #hocuspocus2 Congratulations to the amazing team @bettemidler @sarahjessicaparker @kathynajimy @567and8 @mrsleshem and the WHOOOOLLLEEEE cast and crew!!! Coming to you #halloween #2022 on @disneyplus,” he wrote on Instagram.
The first-look photo of Bette, SJP, and Kathy as their iconic witch characters was revealed on Twitter on November 12. “They’re already running amok, amok, amok!” the tweet read. “@BetteMidler, @SJP, and @KathyNajimy are in production on #HocusPocus2, coming Fall 2022 on #DisneyPlus.”
Hocus Pocus 2 (Photo: (Disney+)
Disney+ revealed a brand-new trailer for the sequel on September 9 at the D23 EXPO, and the trailer introduces us to the woman who started it all with the Sanderson sisters! In the present day, when two teens light the Black Flame candle, the Sanderson sisters make their grand return. This time, they plan on making it past sunrise. A new poster was also unveiled. The first teaser trailer dropped on June 28, 2022.
How To Watch Hocus Pocus 2
The original movie was released in theaters, but Hocus Pocus 2 will be released solely on Disney+. The announcement was made in December 2020 during Disney Investor Day. Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, told viewers: “Of course, one of the most popular holidays is Halloween, and one of the most popular Halloween movies is the cult classic Hocus Pocus. I am happy to confirm we are working on a treat for Disney+ audiences with a spooky sequel.” Until the show’s premiere, fans can watch Hocus Pocus all year round on Disney+ now.
Hocus Pocus is a beloved Halloween classic that millions watch every October. However, Hocus Pocus wasn’t a box office sensation when it was released on July 16, 1993. It only made $38 million off of a $28 million budget. In the nearly 30 years since Hocus Pocus came out, the film has become a phenomenon. Now there will be double the Hocus Pocus to love.
Hocus Pocus 2 Cast
Bette, Sarah, and Kathy will reprise their roles as Sanderson sisters Winifred, Sarah, and Mary. The three actresses each posted the Hocus Pocus 2 official logo on their Instagram pages on May 20, 2021. “Sistaaaahs! It’s been 300 years… But we’re BACK!” Bette wrote. Sarah’s caption read, “Yep. I’m ready. To run. Amok, amok, amok, amok.” Kathy wrote, “The people have spoken: I smell children…again.”
Disney+ released the key art for Hocus Pocus 2 on August 30, one month before the movie’s premiere date. The poster features the Sanderson sisters ready to cause trouble in Salem. “Back and more glorious than ever,” the tagline reads.
All 3 of them expressed interest in returning in the years leading up to the announcement. The original cast also featured Omri Katz as Max Dennison, Thora Birch as Dani, Vinessa Shaw as Allison, and Doug Jones as Billy Butcherson. Doug will be returning as the beloved zombie in Hocus Pocus 2.
“They want to make a movie, they’ve asked us if we were interested and of course all of us said yes,” Bette told Fox 5 New York in October 2020. “I’m game, I’m totally game.” The Sanderson trio recently reunited in October 2020 to raise money for Bette Midler’s charity, New York Restoration Project, getting fans even more excited about the sequel.
Back in May 2020, Sarah revealed to radio host Bruce Bozzi that she had “agreed publicly” about returning. “I think that it is something Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and I are all very hospitable to the idea,” she said. “I think for a long time, people were talking about it as if people were moving forward with it in a real way but we were unaware of it. We’ve agreed publicly to the right people, yes, that would be a very, very fun idea, so we’ll see what the future holds.”
Omri and Vinessa will not be returning for the sequel. Hocus Pocus 2’s director revealed it was “difficult” to incorporate their characters into the film, even just a cameo appearance. “We wanted to weave in all of the people that the fans loved, and when you sat back with all the ingredients and story, you’re like, how do we make this work?” Anne told EW in August 2022. “It was very difficult to try to have them be a part of it, because we did talk about it — painstakingly. You’re trying to stay on track with story, even if they came in as a cameo. People would say, ‘They could be in the background!’ and I’m like, really? You’re going to put the leads of the first movie in the background and be satisfied? You’re not going to be satisfied, you’re going to be angry.”
Thora told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY in January 2020 that she would be down to return as Dani “if they would have me.” She also said, “They’ve been talking about this reboot for five years. I’m excited to see what it all looks like.”
In March 2022, EW reported that Thora had to decline to return for the sequel “due to scheduling conflicts.” A source told the outlet that Thora was asked by Disney to have a “good supporting role” in the sequel as an adult version of Dani. However, Thora was unable to be a part of the film because of her prior obligations to Netflix’s upcoming Wednesday Addams series.
Don’t expect Thackery Binx to return either. Despite a black cat appearing in the Hocus Pocus 2 trailer, it’s a new feline friend. Jason Marsden, who voiced Thackery Binx in cat form, is not coming back for the sequel. The new cat is named Cobweb, and she can’t talk. The director revealed to EW there are “no talking cats” in the sequel. Cobweb belongs to a new character named Gilbert.
On November 1, 2021, Disney+ announced all-new Hocus Pocus 2 cast members. The sequel will star Gossip Girl breakout Whitney Peak as Becca, Lilia Buckingham as Cassie, and Belissa Escobedo as Izzy, three young women in present-day Salem who incite the wrath of the three witches. Ted Lasso star Hannah Waddingham, Veep alum Tony Hale, The Tomorrow War star Sam Richardson, Vanquish star Juju Brener, Cruel Summer star Froy Gutierrez, Taylor Paige Henderson, Nina Kitchen, and RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Kahmora Hall, Ginger Minj, and Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté have also joined the cast. Taylor, Juju, and Nina will portray younger versions of Winifred, Sarah, and Mary.
Taylor spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife and gushed that it was a “huge honor” to be able to play the role of young Winifred. She also got the chance to meet Bette! “She is such a legend and so generous with advice and so kind. Just to be in her presence is so amazing,” Taylor revealed.
“I am beyond thrilled to be involved in the sequel to a film that is as beloved as Hocus Pocus,” director Anne Fletcher said in a statement. “Fans around the world have embraced these characters and have made this film a Halloween tradition whose popularity continues to grow, and how lucky am I to be back at Disney with these three extraordinarily talented ladies in the iconic roles they created, as well as our fabulous new additions to the cast?”
What Will Hocus Pocus 2 Be About?
The plot for Hocus Pocus 2 is being kept very under wraps. When the original Hocus Pocus trio was confirmed to return in May 2021, Disney+ revealed exciting new details about the sequel. In Hocus Pocus 2, three young women “accidentally bring the Sanderson Sisters back to modern-day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on the world.”
The official synopsis for Hocus Pocus 2 is: “It’s been 29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they are looking for revenge. Now it is up to three high-school students to stop the ravenous witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on Salem before dawn on All Hallow’s Eve.”
The sequel will explore more of the backstory of the Sanderson sisters and Billy. “The opening sequence of the movie, we get some history of our witches and Billy. We get a little kiss — pardon the pun — of the Billy aspect of it and the world that they lived in and what happened to the witches. I always missed that in the first one. Like, what are the witches the way they are?” Anne told EW.
She continued, “I did have that question, and the script came, and I loved the opening 1600s. I pushed that a little bit more, because I really wanted to point at, ever so slightly…. the idea that the 1600s and the now are the same. There’s no difference. I just want to poke at the irony of it. But, in the joy of the film you get to see the young version of them and have a great time and understand the what and why of what happened to them.”
— Disney D23 (@DisneyD23) September 9, 2022
Billy will have way more to do and say in Hocus Pocus 2. When he rises from the grave, Anne admitted that Billy “is in a moment of betrayal [in the scene], so you’re looking at this beloved character in such a way who’s been hurt, and it blows your socks off. I’ll never forget that.” Doug revealed that it felt seamless stepping back into the role of Billy.
“I was really happy that Billy comes out of the grave talking,” he revealed to EW. He added, “His hatred for the witches puts him on [the teens’].” Fans will also learn more about his past relationship with Winifred “back in the day” before she killed him for cheating on her with Sarah.
Billy will have a bromance of sorts in Hocus Pocus 2 with Gilbert, the owner of the Salem Magic Shoppe that’s operating out of the Sanderson Sisters cottage. “It’s such a sweet, special little relationship and side story,” Anne admitted. Doug revealed the dynamic feels like their “own little buddy film going off on the side as the movie plays out.”
The three high-school students who accidentally bring the Sanderson sisters will be a “modern-day twist” on the witches. “[We] give each girl not only the same color in the vein of our witches — Becca [Whitney Peak] being Winnie, Izzy [Belissa Escobedo] being Mary, and Cassie [Lilia Buckinham] being Sarah — but their hairstyles in a way are similar. It’s a modern-day twist on it,” Anne teased. “It’s the intention of playing into that. At the end of the day, the movie is about sisterhood, it’s about sticking together through thick and thin, and being there for one another.”
The original movie started in 1693 as the Sanderson sisters were sentenced to death for practicing witchcraft. They were hanged, but not before Winifred vowed to return to Salem to get her revenge. She cast a spell that would bring the sisters back during a full moon on Halloween if a virgin lit the Black Flame Candle. The trio was resurrected 300 years later when Max lit that infamous candle.
Bette Midler and Omri Katz in ‘Hocus Pocus.’ (Courtesy of Everett Collection)
The writers of the first movie left the original film open-ended for a sequel. The Sanderson sisters did disintegrate into magical dust when the sun rose above the horizon, but Winifred’s spellbook teased their possible return. The movie ended with the spellbook opening its eye, meaning that it was still alive and the witches may not be gone for good.
A.W. Jantha published Hocus Pocus and the All-New Sequel in 2018. The YA book followed Max and Allison’s daughter, Poppy, 25 years after the events of the film as she faced off against the Sanderson sisters. The sequel could be based on this book or it could focus on a new story entirely.
Is Hocus Pocus 3 Happening?
Now that Hocus Pocus 2 has arrived, fans are already wondering about a possible Hocus Pocus 3. “I mean, I would be down. But I don’t know if there is. I feel like everybody keeps asking me and I’m like, there is kind of a post-credits scene that leaves the door open, but you didn’t hear from me,” Whitney told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY.
The trio isn’t ruling out a third movie. “I’d love to have a franchise — especially a character I love playing,” Bette told EW. “If there was a third one, of course I’d sign on, but I don’t know how. I can’t imagine what the story would be, but I love Winifred, Sarah, Mary, and our relationship. It’s good for women. We stick together through hell and high water, but we do cause mayhem, and not many women cause that much mayhem!”
Kathy says she’ll “never say never” when it comes to doing more Hocus Pocus films, but she does think Hocus Pocus 2 “pulled every story you could pull out of this” story. Sarah added, “Of course, I’d be happy to have a conversation [for a third film], it just depends on what Kathy and Bette want!” She also mentioned a possible animated third film. “That would be cool and a smart idea. It’s fun, funny, and could be interesting and innovative, like old-fashioned or new [animation],” the actress admitted.
SJP later told Extra at the Hocus Pocus 2 premiere, “Bette is already starting rumors… I hitch my wagon to her star. If she wants to do a third one… No one says no to the Divine Miss M.”
Production on Hocus Pocus 2 started in Rhode Island in November 2021. The movie was expected to film scenes in Providence’s College Hill neighborhood, according to The Providence Journal. In mid-November, SJP was spotted in character as Sarah Sanderson while filming outside the Old Colony House in Newport. Filming ended in January 2022.
Bette tweeted on January 26, 2022, that she was done filming. She tweeted a photo of the Sanderson sisters as cartoon characters and wrote, “THAT’S A WRAP!!!!”
THAT’S A WRAP!!!! pic.twitter.com/TMoRZrr1i1
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) January 27, 2022
The sequel was originally going to be directed by Adam Shankman. “Thanks with all of my heart dear @disney,” Adam wrote on Instagram in 2020 when the news was announced. “Looks like Il be working on a looooooottttt of magic for awhile… I feel incredibly honored and humbled to be guiding forward these two Disney crown jewel legacies. My only hope is to honor those who came before me and build something new and exciting, as I desperately try to not let down the fans and enchant the new initiates.” He’s currently working on the Enchanted sequel Disenchanted.
Anne Fletcher took over as director of Hocus Pocus 2, with Adam stepping into an executive producer role along with Ralph Winter and David Kirschner. Steven Haft is a co-producer.
“As heartbroken as I am that I won’t be able to direct my friends Bette, Sarah Jessica, and Kathy in what is sure to be nothing short of a major event for Disney+ due to scheduling conflicts, I couldn’t be more pleased to be handing over the reins to Anne, who has brought so much laughter and joy into people’s lives with her previous work,” Adam said in a statement. “I am still grateful and proud to help shepherd this ingenious project as executive producer alongside producer Lynn Harris, whom I have loved and admired as a colleague and friend since she helped get me the job choreographing Boogie Nights.”
Anne’s statement read, “Now more than ever, people need to laugh. We should be laughing every day, and there is so much fun to be had with these three unbelievable women playing delicious characters from such a beloved film. I am so grateful to be able to play a part in bringing these witches back to life, and to be working with my friends at Disney again makes it all the more special. This is a movie for everyone, from the fans who grew up with the first film to the next generation of viewers, and I can’t wait to get started.”