Hocus Pocus 2: All We Know About The Bette Midler Sequel

Hocus Pocus 2 will return Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy for the sequel

By Rick Gonzales | Published

They are back! For fans of the original Hocus Pocus, the day is close at hand, one they felt they would never see. When Disney announced in 2020 that, yes, fans would finally get their wish granted and a Hocus Pocus 2 was in the works, the first film’s biggest fan Bette Midler, who plays Winifred Sanderson, was beside herself with excitement. She has been pushing for a sequel pretty much since the first film was released.

It didn’t take much to convince the other two Sanderson Sisters, Sarah Sanderson played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and Mary Sanderson played by Kathy Najimy, to climb back up on their witches’ brooms (or whatever Mary Sanderson will be flying on this time). So, how did we get here, and (an even bigger question) is there a chance there is more after Hocus Pocus 2?

HOCUS POCUS 2 WILL RELEASE SEPTEMBER 30, 2022 ON DISNEY+

At the end of January 2022, Hocus Pocus 2 producer Adam Sharkman took to Instagram for two announcements, including a release date for the film. Captioned with “SISTAAAAAHHHHSSS! Aaaaand that’s a WRAP!!!” the post let fans know that production had wrapped on the long-awaited sequel. After tagging many of the principals, Sharkman wrote that Hocus Pocus 2 will release on Disney+ on Halloween 2022. You can see the announcement below.

UPDATE: It was easy to see why Shankman took to Instagram to announce to fans when to expect Hocus Pocus 2. It made sense then, and it still makes sense today. Hocus Pocus 2 on Halloween is a perfect day.

Except Disney eventually didn’t think so. Now, instead of getting our fun fill of those witchy Sanderson Sisters on Halloween, we are going to get them one full month earlier! Yes, Hocus Pocus 2, along with all of the Sanderson Sisters witchy shenanigans, will be hitting the Disney+ streamer on September 30, 2022.

Now that we know the Sanderson Sisters will be flying into living rooms a month earlier than expected, let’s continue to take a gander at how the production progressed. Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy shared a couple of tidbits along the way.

BETTE MIDDLER SHARES A FIRST LOOK AT HOCUS POCUS 2

In November 2021, Hocus Pocus 2 was officially in production. Star Bette Middler shared a photo of all three of the actresses back in costume as the Sanderson sisters, looking much the same as they did in the first movie.

KATHY NAJIMY SHARED EARLY PRODUCTION UPDATES

kathy najimy hocus pocus

Kathy Najimy played Mary Sanderson in the original Hocus Pocus and is returning for the sequel. She gave an update on production at the start of 2021. In an interview on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show (via Comicbook.com), Najimy said that she, Bette Midler, and Sarah Jessica Parker had spoken on the phone over several weeks regarding the sequel’s script and had given their notes on the screenplay.

“Now it’s just location, times and dates and how long and all that. So it’s just, it’s those things,” Najimy said. So it sounds like the script is ready to go and now it is down to a matter of scheduling. Hopefully, the pieces will fall into place very soon. They did.

Speaking with the three actresses after the fact, after production was complete, they discussed with Entertainment Weekly the process of getting the script just right as Sarah Jessica Parker says, “The script was the hardest part.” But according to all three stars, it was a collaborative effort between the actors and those in charge of putting the movie together.

“The most important thing was trying to figure out a story that everybody was excited about and that was familiar enough in tone to make sense, nod to the past, and pay tribute to a [the first film’s] whimsy, ridiculousness, evilness, and wickedness,” said Parker.

“Anne [director Anne Fletcher] was so great,” said Better Midler. “She said, “You guys created these characters, you know how they talk and what they do or don’t do.” When the first draft came in, we sent it back with [character] notes and suggestions, and they interpolated them into the script. As it went on, if there were lapses in logic, we’d bring it to their attention, but it was more about how the characters speak.”

“They sent us story ideas,” explained Kathy Najimy, “then Sarah, Bette, and I would have phone meetings with lots of snacks, and we’d talk over narratives and character arcs. We were able to give them our two cents, and what the writer and studio came up with was difficult, because you can’t take something that was so successful and stray too far from it. The first one had something delicious about it, but you also want to make something new. With a little bit of our input, the writer’s input, and Disney’s, we came up with something that’s current and fun.”

SEE THE HOCUS POCUS SETS BEING BUILT

In late 2021, news finally came that filming was getting ready to go. Sets for the sequel were finally being built, so the movie could be filmed with the autumn ambiance that a proper Hocus Pocus 2 requires.

THE HOCUS POCUS 2 TRAILER

It took a while, but here we are. The Sanderson Sisters in all their witchy glory. As you can see in the trailer below, they are ready to wreak some havoc and lay claim to what they feel is theirs. Check it out.

What you don’t see in the trailer, thankfully, are any hints of the big musical numbers. “We suggested that there be songs,” confessed Midler. “That was our big contribution. We said, ‘They have to sing.’” Parker added, “There are two covers, we have two numbers. Two big musical numbers. We would’ve done three if they’d let us.” And that is all we will say about that.

THE FIRST HOCUS POCUS WAS A CULT CLASSIC

HOCUS POCUS SANDERSON SISTERS

Before Hocus Pocus 2, there was the original cult hit. The first showing of the 300-year-old witches, who met their demise by execution in the 17th Century, came almost 30 years ago. It was a silly, but fun, Disney movie that was written by Mick Garris, whose background consists of many horror movies and a strong relationship with Stephen King.

The feature was directed by Kenny Ortega, who began his career as a music video director and then moved on to features such as the High School Musical franchise. Other than Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, the movie also starred Omri Katz and Thora Birch.

DOUG JONES RETURNING AS BILLY BUTCHERSON

Before the official announcement about Hocus Pocus 2, Bette Midler had been hoping for a comeback. She said early on that she was “absolutely” up to return to her role as Winifred, the eldest Sanderson witch, also saying, “I can’t wait to fly!” She joked to Entertainment Online, telling them,  “Oh my goodness me. Oh I hope they get to me before I’m a corpse,” said Midler.

“We wanna fly again. I hope Disney+ is a big success and I hope we get to do it, because [Winifred] is of course one of my favorite characters.” As things began to fall into place, Midler remarked, “Oh, yeah. We’re just talking logistics.” Those logistics must have been ironed out because the official announcement followed and all three stars are back. But are they the only ones from the first film?

So, we know about Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy returning, but what about any of the other stars from the first film? Well, what we do know is that there is one (and only one) from the first film returning and that is Doug Jones.

He will be back in all his dead glory as Billy Butcherson and claims that even after nearly 30 years, “Billy came back to me immediately, it was frightening how he’s been alive while I’ve been playing other characters all these years.”

Those are the four from the first move who are carrying over to the second, though it should be noted that at one point, Thora Birch was slated to come back as Dani, but a scheduling conflict took her out of the film.

NEW TO HOCUS POCUS 2 CAST MEMBERS INCLUDE SAM RICHARDSON AND TONY HALE

Joining the four will be Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, and Lila Buckingham, the three young teenagers responsible for the reappearance of the Sanderson Sisters. Sam Richardson (The Tomorrow War, Werewolves Within) is on board as Gilbert, and Tony Hale (Arrested Development) makes an appearance as Mayor Traske.

ADAM SHANKMAN IS DIRECTING

Adam shankman

Originally, Adam Shankman had been tapped to jump behind the camera for Hocus Pocus 2. This could be a fine choice as Shankman has had some success handling comedies. His resume includes Bringing Down the House, Cheaper by The Dozen 2, and Disney’s Bedtime Stories as well as Rock of Ages and his most recent comedy feature What Men Want.

However, Shankman was replaced by director Anne Fletcher due to scheduling conflicts. Fletcher’s career as a director has included comedies like 27 Dresses and Hot Pursuit. The director hasn’t spoken out about her new job yet, but the handover should go smoothly as Shankman and Fletcher appear to be friends who’ve worked together previously.

The script was written by Jen D’Angelo, who doesn’t have a huge background when it comes to writing but has found time on series such as Workaholics, LA to Vegas, and Happy Together.

THE PLOT OF HOCUS POCUS WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE MODERN DAY

hocus pocus poster

So, why are the Sanderson Sisters back after spending 30 years in purgatory? It appears that they are brought back by mistake to a modern-day Salem by three unknowing teenagers, whose goal then turns into figuring out a way to stop the child-hungry sisters from doing major damage. How much fun does that sound?

THERE ARE NO PLANS FOR A HOCUS POCUS 3

hulaween

Let’s not kid ourselves. When the first Hocus Pocus hit theaters almost 30 years ago, it was neither a critical nor commercial success. Critics were especially unkind to the Sanderson Sisters with only a few kind words to spare. As far as 1993 audiences went, not many did. The film was made on a $28 million budget and brought in a mere $39 million.

But something magically witchy happened in the 29 years since the Sanderson Sisters spooked the big screen. They grabbed a following that has only continued to grow and grow as if a spell was put upon them. Many have looked back with a fond eye on the original Hocus Pocus, so much so that the demand for a second Hocus Pocus caught the attention of the Divine Miss M and helped her lead the charge for a sequel.

It also helped that when Disney decided to rerelease the original in 2020, it became the biggest rerelease of the year. In its first ten days of its rerelease, Hocus Pocus pulled in over $3 million at the box office.

That figure was higher than the 2020 rerelease of the greatest Star Wars movie ever made, The Empire Strikes Back, which made $2.4 million, and the rerelease of Jurassic Park, which had brought in $1.4 million. In total, the 2020 rerelease of Hocus Pocus brought Disney a grand total of $5.6 million.

Even though Hocus Pocus 2 won’t be getting a theatrical release, this bodes well for the sequel. The groundswell of excitement for the film continues to grow as we get closer and closer to its Disney+ premiere, so much so, that there have been hints of a possible trilogy.

Of course, Disney+ will need to see the watch hours Hocus Pocus 2 accumulates, but if you ask the Sanderson Sisters, all three are ready, willing, and able to sign on for a third witchy adventure.

“I don’t know that there are plans for a third one, but I know fans are dedicated to this film. I’m just happy we can bring this to them,” Kathy Najimy (Mary Sanderson) told Entertainment Weekly.

“Kathy had a good idea that the third one should be animated. That would be cool and a smart idea. It’s fun, funny, and could be interesting and innovative, like old-fashioned or new [animation]. Of course, I’d be happy to have a conversation, it just depends on what Kathy and Bette want!” exclaimed Sarah Jessica Parker (Sarah Sanderson).

But leave it up to Bette Midler to put it all in perspective. “The fact that we got to do this finally, after 30 years of promoting the idea, I’m glad we got to do it. I’d love to have a franchise — especially a character I love playing. 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!”

You can see the return of America’s favorite witches, the Sanderson Sisters, when Hocus Pocus 2 premieres on Disney+ on September 30, 2022.