It took almost 30 years and a little bit of magic to deliver Hocus Pocus 2. The original film, released in 1993, wasn’t a hit with audiences or critics, and it’s believed that the film may have lost about $16.5 million in its original theatrical run. However, through positive word of mouth and annual screenings on the Disney Channel and Freeform (formerly ABC Family), Hocus Pocus eventually caught on with the audiences that mattered and became a solid home video grosser for the House of Mouse. With legacy sequels en vogue and nostalgia constantly mined by the big studios, POOF, production began on Hocus Pocus 2.
The original film centered on the Sanderson Sisters, three Salem witches condemned to death in 1693 after they drained the life force of a young girl and cursed her brother to live an eternity as a black cat. Before their execution, the witches cast a curse that will resurrect them if a virgin lights the Black Flame Candle in their cottage during a full moon on All Hollow’s Eve. Sure enough, and in 1993, a new teenager in town inadvertently lights the candle, resurrecting the sisters, and he must try to stop them as they pursue him and his young sister.
While it didn’t initially score with audiences, perhaps the movie’s “dark for Disney” tone and funny, cartoonish performances from leads Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as the witches won over kids and their parents alike over time. The spooky vibe and slightly scandalous jokes help to make kids feel like they’re getting away with something when watching the original film, and there’s enough campy fun to keep adults engaged as well.
Thus a sequel to the film has been gestating since 2014, and it finally got off the ground with a story credit from original mastermind David Kirschner and directing duties being handled by Anne Fletcher (Step Up, The Proposal).
The new film centers on “three high school students [who] must work together to save Salem and stop the Sanderson sisters, who have returned to present-day Salem looking for revenge.” Midler, Parker, Najimy, and Doug Jones, who portrayed the zombie Billy Butcherson, are all reprising their roles, and this time around will be joined by Sam Richardson, Tony Hale, Hannah Waddingham, and more. Keeping with the camp tone of the original, RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Ginger Minj, Kornbread Jeté, and Kahmora Hall will feature as drag queens impersonating the Sanderson Sisters.
How to Watch Hocus Pocus 2
Hocus Pocus 2 will be forgoing a theatrical release. For a long time, many believed that the film would be released straight to television on the Disney Channel and Freefrom, where the original film attracted millions of viewers annually, but that was before Disney launched their own streaming service. To attract viewers to subscribe to Disney+, the film will be streaming exclusively on the platform. That’s right, Hocus Pocus 2 will stream solely on Disney+ starting on Sept. 30, 2022.
Viewers can access Disney+ on their smart TVs, web browsers, game consoles, mobile devices, set-top boxes, and more. The service currently costs $8/month for ad-free streaming, but a price increase is rumored to be coming in December. Viewers can also bundle Disney Plus with Hulu and ESPN+ for a starting price of $14/month.