Hocus Pocus 3 has been announced by Disney, but none of the original cast are currently onboard.
The Hollywood Reporter has news that is not surprising at all and yet, still shocking to learn. Following the success of last year’s long-delayed sequel on Disney+, Hocus Pocus 3 is now in development. The sequel set streaming records, but the first film was a box office disappointment before becoming a cult hit popular enough to create a franchise 30 years later.
Details for Hocus Pocus 3 are under wraps at the moment, and it’s so early that there’s no confirmation on the return of all of the Sanderson sisters, played in both films by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. Midler has gone on record as saying that “if there was a third one, of course I’d sign on.” The original film had a tease at the end that the Sandersons could return after seemingly being killed by Max (Omri Katz) and his sister, Dani (Thora Birch), but something more powerful than magic kept them on ice: a disappointing box office.
Hocus Pocus 3 will, like the sequel, be released directly on Disney+, avoiding the potential to fail like the original, which earned only $45 million. By comparison, Free Willy, was released the same day and earned over $150 million. The choice to release a Halloween-themed film in July didn’t work out, but despite the poor reception, once available on video and broadcast on cable, Hocus Pocus became a runaway success.
Disney finally heard the demand for a sequel after Hocus Pocus was re-released in theaters during Covid and pulled in over a million dollars. That proof was enough for a sequel to get greenlit, which introduced Whitney Peak as Becca, a teenage girl that finds out she’s a witch, and, in the words of executive producer Adam Shankman, provides plenty of possibilities for spin-offs. In case the three main stars don’t return, there’s the chance for a Becca-centric film or another possible option is Hocus Pocus 3 may feature a rising star in Hollywood.
Hannah Waddingham, Ted Lasso’s breakout star and an infamous part of Game of Thrones, was introduced in Hocus Pocus 2 as the Mother Witch, a supernatural being that originally gave a book of spells to the Sanderson sisters. Waddingham hasn’t confirmed being involved in Hocus Pocus 3, but her character gives the option for the series to completely leave the town of Salem behind.
No matter what happens with the story of Hocus Pocus 3, a third film coming so soon after the second is going to be fantastic news for fans. It took almost 30 years for a sequel, so a third film within two years is a major victory for the fanbase. Since the second film was one of the fifth most-streamed movies of 2022, with over a billion minutes viewed, expectations are going to be high for the next film.
Cynically, it’s understandable that Disney would approve Hocus Pocus 3 so quickly; as a fairly low-budget franchise, it fits with the company’s new cost-cutting approach. Keeping die-hard fans happy keeps them subscribed, and with the recent loss of dozens of series, including Disney+ originals, the service will soon have an issue retaining subscribers.