The stars Bette Midler as well as Whitney Peak, director Anne Fletcher Writer Jen D’Angelo, and producers talk about the ways they tried to give fans what they want, and much more in the much-anticipated sequel that is now playing via Disney+.
The team of Hocus Pocus 2 set out to create an update to the cult Halloween film, they had to face the task of trying to find a way to bring back the same elements that people loved in the original film without repeating the same plot from 1993.
“It’s a constant pull,” director Anne Fletcher told The Hollywood Reporter at the Hocus Pocus 2 premiere in New York last month. “You’re thinking about the script as you’re drafting the script and then putting it on the stage and putting together the sets, costumes, and the cast. It’s always about what the fans want to see, which might seem too repetitive and what could be just enough excitement that fans would appreciate and it was always in my head. And I believe we balanced everything in the right place, incorporating everything we liked about the witches, and just a bit more.”
Author Jen D’Angelo, who scripted the screenplay for the sequel made use of the inspiration of her Hocus Pocusfandom and her own experiences with tense high school friendships and a fascination with scary things to inform her spooky take.
“I definitely just thought of, ‘What do I love about the original?’ It’s the Sanderson sisters, it’s the spooky fun, it’s the unexpected emotion,” D’Angelo said to the THR. “I cry still every time when Thackery [Binx] turns back into a boy at the end [of the first film], so that was what I was really going for: that campy fun, that fun spookiness and also the unexpected surprising part in the center of the story.”
For the executive producer Adam Shankman, keeping the Sanderson sisters in the forefront was crucial.
“I always kept in my mind that the three witches are the heart and soul of it, and they’re the Three Stooges,” the actor told THR during the Hocus Pocus 2 premiere. “And If we can just ensure that this is kept in check There’s a whole universe which we can create around them, as long as they’re exactly the same way they did when they ended. They’re also facing a completely new set of challenges to face and an entirely new world of technology that they must confront.”
In addition, they are resurrected from the dead through candles that burn in black Winnie ( Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy) and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) Sanderson are given their own story as viewers see their younger versions of the group, and how they came up with their talents.
Midler spoke to THR about the story’s direction and how they decided which aspects to concentrate on “I believe they were extremely meticulous in choosing what people loved. I’m sure that what they liked was that we were always together and our bonds were very strong. They would like for us to have a background as people used to ask”What’s the background? What happened to them? Who were they before?’ I believe they did an excellent job.”
Alongside taking people back into the past, Fletcher and D’Angelo brought the story to the present, with the Sanderson sisters taking on a different trio of girls with the same connection.
The inspiration for D’Angelo’s sisterhood was a result of her own experiences as a teenager.
“It is really about what version of the film I would have liked to see as a child. I felt that it was important to make a film about friendships between teenage girls,” D’Angelo said. “The main problem Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) and Becca ( Whitney Peak) have is something that I experienced with my peers during high school. I can remember when you’d get into arguments with your peers because you weren’t able to communicate. I felt that it was an important tale to share with viewers to show a strong bond that endures hardship and comes out stronger after opposite sides.”
Peak’s Becca isn’t only able to come out of her battle against the witches more powerful, but she’s also identified as an actual witch and her palms glow with violet light as she realizes her abilities when she turns 16.
Peak said that the moment was “very exciting” but also appropriate to how her character has changed over time.
“I think for her in her life, she’s had to take control of a lot of things and be very independent and mature at a very young age,” Peak revealed to The Hollywood Reporter. “And it’s a shame that this has to occur to her simply puts them to the test but also strengthens her bond with her peers and makes her feel more confident about what she’s like as a person, and reminds her why everything in her life is exactly as it has been. It’s an aha moment. Everything happens for some reason. Everything in my life seems to seem to make sense.”
D’Angelo claimed that Becca discovering her abilities to be magical could be “pure wish fulfillment.”
“I was really into spooky stuff when I was growing up,” the author revealed to The Hollywood Reporter. “In my high school years, my classmates and I would play with an Ouija board at all times. We were huge fans of Halloween. She’s like me at times, wanting to get involved with witchcraft and finding it is really fascinating and then it’s just pure desire fulfillment.”
Fletcher connects the current storyline with the prequel elements of the film by saying Becca’s discovery “was in the script and I just pushed it a little further.”
“We just had fun with it because we had a prequel where we got a lot of background story of how and why any of this happened to the witches, and I wanted to thread it into the modern day,” Fletcher explained. “It sort of lent itself elegantly, in the development of the script, to sort of reflecting our three teenagers through the Sanderson sisters.”
Shankman applauded Fletcher’s rendition of the Becca storyline and suggested that it might provide hints for future projects in the Hocus Pocus universe.
“Anne I think handled that really, really beautifully,” Shankman stated about Becca’s discovery. “We talked around and round about what it would take to make this work if it were going to work for a long time and Anne was like”This was what we’re planning do. I think it’s fantastic. And it generates lots of excitement over the possibility of spinoffs.”
The first film is actually in the world of sequels, Fletcher confirms, when asked about Hocus Pocus 2‘s meta-event where Winnie is flying by a home and witnesses viewers watching the original film on television, particularly the scene in which the witches interfere with the Halloween celebration of two bickering couples who are played by Late Garry as well as Penny Marshall.
“In the film, there’s a Sanderson sister contest. It clearly is an original film. I wanted to be funny and amusing,” Fletcher said. “Watching the film with the audience since there have been a lot of people testing it, they liked it for the reason that it’s a small kiss, a nod towards the original film. We’re paying homage to the film while creating something totally new. The nature of it being Garry and Penny has meaning at the time as well.”
For the producer, Lynn Harris, the significance of the sequel extends beyond the two sisters who are part of the sequel and into the larger idea of the strength of numbers.
“At the end, it’s very much about, we’re stronger together than we are individually, and I think that’s — it’s Hocus Pocus so I don’t want to get too deep — but that’s a good message for everybody, whether it’s sisters in blood or sisters in theory, whether it’s a chosen family or real family, we have to stick together,” Harris stated.