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Time for the Sanderson sisters to run ‘amok, amok, amok’ again as, yes, ‘Hocus Pocus 3’ is happening

A Disney exec has revealed that Hocus Pocus 3 is on the way and explains why original properties are so hard to make — in case everyone is rolling their eyes.

Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson in Disney's live-action HOCUS POCUS 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Matt Kennedy. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Image via Matt Kennedy / Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Soon there will be as many movies in the Hocus Pocus franchise as there are witches tormenting the sleepy town of Salem. Walt Disney Pictures President Sean Bailey recently confirmed that a threequel is in development, no matter how sick poor Billy Butcherson is of having to crawl out of his grave.

In an interview with the New York Times, Bailey teased several live-action continuations and “reimaginings” in the pipeline, including live-action versions of Moana, Hercules, and Lilo and Stitch, plus a prequel to the “live-action” The Lion King. He also reported: “Yes, Hocus Pocus 3 is happening.”

Currently, there’s no information on the story of Hocus Pocus 3 or which actors will be returning. However, recent interviews suggest the actors behind the Sanderson sisters are at least willing to consider another round of wig and corset fittings.

Sarah Jessica Parker told ExtraTV that she would return to Salem thrice (the first film was their first return; don’t math-shame us) if Bette Midler agreed to sign on, saying, “I hitch my wagon to her star. If she wants to do a third one … No one says ‘no’ to the Divine Miss M.”

Midler herself gave a far more confusing answer about whether she’d return, telling E! News this past February: “Everything is weird. I don’t know, maybe. Who knows?” We’re not sure what she means by “Everything is weird.” Perhaps the filmmaking business post-COVID is especially hard to read. Or perhaps she recognizes that Hocus Pocus 2 bore a little too much resemblance to the staggering, lifeless corpses that her celebrated antagonist reanimates to terrorize children. But none of that really matters, since the sequel was Disney Plus’ number-one domestic film debut at the time of its release, which makes sense for a story so beloved by ’90s kids.

In fact, Bailey spoke openly with the Times about why his division leans so hard on previously established properties: “It’s really hard to crack through and get an original, hugely commercial win.” Indeed, the Times outlined a few past failures in the live-action space, such as 2019’s dog-sledding drama Togo and 2015’s much-anticipated Tomorrowland, which somehow never entered the zeitgeist despite the talents of star George Clooney and director Brad Bird. However, Bailey said, “[w]e’re going to keep trying,” highlighting the forthcoming Neil Gaiman adaptation The Graveyard Book.

Bailey’s struggle to bring original ideas to the screen certainly makes sense from a business perspective, but finding original ideas and turning them into hits is literally what every studio is tasked to do. The difference is, Disney has more recognizable IP to fall back on than a company like Lionsgate, which has to just keep making movies at smaller budgets and hoping they hit.

Disney could try lifting strategies from that playbook, especially since their Lucasfilm and Marvel arms will always use recognizable IP. And even when Lucasfilm and Marvel movies fail, they still bring in significant cash. Plus, Lucasfilm easing off their Star Wars films recently and Marvel making fewer projects in coming years should help offset any lost revenue. Maybe there’s room for smaller live-action movies under just the Disney banner.

The Graveyard Book is a good start, but if that doesn’t meet Disney’s box office expectations, it’s probably safe to say we’re condemned to more stale reimaginings of old stories for the next decade or so. Though we pray Disney doesn’t resort to live-action retellings of The Rescuers Down Under or Song of the South Except Woke.

Or perhaps the less-than-stellar worldwide box office of The Little Mermaid will convince Disney that people are getting sick of packing their kids and juice boxes into the car and heading down to the local theater, only to see movies they already have superior versions of at home on Disney Plus.

Hocus Pocus 3 will likely be a streaming film, thus avoiding this conundrum. It requires very little effort for audiences to click on a new film from the comfort of their couches. Just consider it a down payment that will cycle through the Disney machine and hopefully land in the budget of a story we’ve never seen before.

Matt Wayt
About the author

Matt Wayt

Matt lives in Hollywood and enjoys writing about art and the business that tries to kill it. He loves Tsukamoto and Roger Rabbit. letterboxd: wayt_what