Hocus Pocus creator David Kirchner says he wants the franchise to spinoff into a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-esque series
Disney’s Hocus Pocus has evolved from a middling 90’s kids movie to a Halloween-season cult classic, and if its creator has his way, it could soon get it own dark, gritty reboot. According to a report by Comic Book Resources, David Kirschner, the original creator and writer for the film, has an idea for a TV spinoff series that would be less “Disney Channel” and more Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The proposed series would explore the darker spiritual underworld only hinted at in the original film starring Bette Midler which was toned down to achieve a family-friendly PG rating.
“Underneath all of those headstones as you see when the kids run in the ceremony and they go underground…I wanted to really explore a world that lives beneath Salem of things that go bump in the night,” Kirschner told The Art of Kindness Podcast. He hopes that the franchise could live beyond the Hocus Pocus sequel that premieres on Disney+ on September 30, more than 29 years after the film premiered in theaters. To do that, he specifically suggested taking a Buffy the Vampire Slayer-like approach, that would likely be geared to older viewers who enjoyed the original film as kids.
Hocus Pocus 2 reunites the three leads who portrayed the evil Sanderson Sisters, Bette Midler (Winifred), Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah), and Kathy Najimy (Mary), three witches who resurrect to wreak havoc on Salem, Massachusetts. In the original film, the sisters were supposedly banished to the great beyond, but in the sequel, set 29 years later, the trio are resurrected once again and seek revenge once more. Also back for more scary mayhem is Doug Jones (Star Trek: Discovery), playing the goofy, noodle-legged zombie Billy Butcherson.
A new trio of teenagers face off against the witches for this go-round: Whitney Peak (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Belissa Escobedo (Blue Beetle) and Lilia Buckingham (Dirt). Other cast members include Hannah Waddingham, Tony Hale, Joshua Allan Eads, and Sam Richardson.
Unfortunately, the actors who played the kids who stop the Sanderson Sisters in the original Hocus Pocus, Omri Katz, Vinessa Shaw, and Thora Birch, do not return for the sequel. Birch reportedly had to decline due to scheduling conflicts, but Katz told Entertainment Weekly he was never asked to return, and he and Shaw voiced an eagerness to reprise their roles..
Despite its popularity today, Hocus Pocus (directed by Kenny Ortega) was a flop upon its original release. Released in July of 1993, a terrible time for a Halloween movie to open, the film grossed a mere $8.1 its opening weekend. While it eventually grossed about $45 million worldwide, Disney reportedly still lost over $16 million in production and promotional costs. Critics ravaged it, giving it a 39% on Rotten Tomatoes, but years of reruns on The Disney Channel and home video sales endeared it to millions, and it is now a Halloween TV tradition.
If Hocus Pocus ever becomes a spinoff series, it may have wait and revisit the Sanderson Sisters story once more. Midler, Parker, and Najimy have all voiced their willingness to do a third film, if the opportunity arises. Hocus Pocus 2 is directed by Anne Fletcher and written by Jen D’Angelo.