As you know, we won’t have to wait 29 years for the Sanderson Sisters to return like we did once before. Following the success of 2022’s long-awaited sequel, Hocus Pocus 3 is already confirmed and on its way.
As Halloween approaches, it’ll be another year of trying to keep ignorant teenagers from lighting black flame candles while we wait for Sarah, Mary, and Winifred’s promised return. Until then, we thought it would be fun to talk about everything we know about Hocus Pocus 3 so far.
The Sanderson Sisters Are Born
1993 was a banner year for Disney. Not only did it bring us Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, but we were also introduced to the three sisters of dark magic and their scary but ridiculous antics in Salem. Although appreciation for the film wouldn’t grow until years later, Disney released one of the cornerstones of comedy Halloween entertainment for this generation in Hocus Pocus.
As the world first met Winifred (Better Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Majimy), little did they know that they would become cemented in the spooky holiday for years to come. The Sanderson sisters would eventually become part of Halloween culture itself, and for good reason.
When we think of Halloween, our brain conjures images of zombies, ghosts, candy, and witches! The iconic spooky season imagery has been part of frightening folklore since recorded history began. However, in the United States, witches became synonymous with thoughts of evil and things that go bump in the night, ultimately leading to the persecution of many accused of the practice during the Salem Witch Trials.
Playing on that sense of herd mentality and fear, writers Mick Garris and Neil Cuthbert set to work adapting a story written by Garris, alongside David Kirschner, based around the trials. The story in question would become what we know as Hocus Pocus.
It’s Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus
What the writers and director Kenny Ortega didn’t know at the time was that due to a spectacular casting job, they were creating something that would remain in high demand for decades, becoming part of Halloween traditions around the country, even at Walt Disney World.
Each year, families pure into Disney Parks or nestle around their televisions, waiting to glimpse the Sanderson sisters. For many, Hocus Pocus is the official kickoff to their spooky season celebrations. It’s garnered a large following of fans since its premiere, and a large part of its success is thanks to the star power of Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Despite its reluctant release, Hocus Pocus would eventually become the ultimate Halloween movie.
The three main characters, executed initially during the Salem Witch Trials, are brought back to life for one night as they try to lure unsuspecting children to ensure their own immortality. Although the Sanderson sisters are well-equipped in the dark arts, what they didn’t expect was the hilarity that would ensur once they face the challenges of the 20th century.
While chasing Max Dennison (Omri Katz), Allison (Vinessa Shaw), and Dani (Thora Birch) throughout Salem during a night of deadly shenanigans, the witch sisters are doing everything in their power to ensure their survival once the sun rises. Winifred even raises Sarah’s ex-lover, Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones), from his grave. Of course, nothing goes according to plan, as the children, along with Binx the Cat/ Thackery Binx (Sean Murray), seem to be one step ahead of the magic-wielding trio from the underworld.
Popularity Grows for the Fabulous Sisters of Salem
Although now considered one of the greatest Halloween-themed movies ever released, Hocus Pocus wasn’t always viewed as positive. Despite shrouding itself in a blanket of comedy, the dark themes of the film, revolving around black magic, sucking the life force from children, and even a guest appearance by Satan (who the Sanderson sisters refer to as “Master”), turned many off to the original film.
Its July release also seemed weird product placement reminiscent of this year’s July release of Disney’s The Haunted Mansion. However, the film would survive the initial onslaught of poor reviews and eventually rise from the ashes, resurrecting itself, much like Winifred, Sarah, and Mary.
After its revival, Hocus Pocus would enjoy immortalized success by those who remember the original film as part of their annual Halloween festivities. Myself included, many of us would finish up our trick-or-treating and sit comfortably in front of the Disney Channel while watching the cult classic film each Halloween. The survival of the film’s initial flop, returning to life thanks to children who longed for the nostalgia it created, is pretty ironic.
29-Years, Right Down to the Day
The Sanderson sisters and their annual exploits on All Hallow’s Eve would go on to be not just part of our own celebrations at home but a big draw for Walt Disney World during its Halloween party. The three devilish siblings make their way each year to Cinderella Castle during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. The exclusive look at the musical callbacks to the original film earned the movie a large following of Disney park fans who pleaded with Disney to bring Midler, Parker, and Najimy back for a sequel.
Although it wasn’t “right down to the day,” Hocus Pocus fans got their wish in 2022, as the witches were back, wreaking havoc on Salem and its Mayor (Tony Hale) threatening the rest of the world. The sequel also provided some much-anticipated backstory for the three sisters, even showing how they came about Winifred’s spellbook while meeting Mother Witch (Hannah Waddingham).
Not released to theatres, instead bringing a record number of subscribers to Disney+, Hocus Pocus 2 was a smashing success. Despite some who were unhappy with the sequel, the combined star power of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as the Sanderson sisters was enough to keep Disney and its fans happy. It was also enough to leave the door open for a third, and maybe final, Hocus Pocus film.
‘Hocus Pocus 3’ Finale to the Trilogy
We don’t know a lot about the third installment of Hocus Pocus, except that apparently its happening. The New York Times confirmed that Walt Disney Pictures president Sean Bailey ensured readers that Hocus Pocus 3 is in development. As the sequel broke records with the Neilson Top 10 streaming chart, as well as quickly became the top streamed original movie on Disney+ with over 2.7 million minutes watched after its premiere, Disney is dedicated to keeping the cash flowing, especially when their struggling streaming platform is in need of saving.
Information regarding what’s to come in Hocus Pocus 3 is far and in between, but there are some interesting morsels of suggestions on the internet. Some even hint that a few familiar faces from the original film may return. ScreenRant brings up some interesting points regarding comments made by Omri Katz, who is willing and ready to revise his role as Max Dennison in the third film. Katz is even campaigning for his return, explaining, “I’m excited for the new film!… Yes, I would return if Disney approached me. It would be an honor to return.”
Of course, we can’t have Max without Allison, right? Well, Hocus Pocus 2 writer Jen D’Angelo also made it well-known that she wants Vinessa Shaw to return in Hocus Pocus 3. “To be honest, the second film left everything wide-open, creating a large amount of possibilities for the return of characters from Hocus Pocus and Hocus Pocus 2. This was intentional,” director Anne Fletcher explained to SFX Magazine.
“We tried so hard to get the original cast back for cameos and then it just kept not working out for one reason or the other. But I’m hoping in Hocus Pocus 3, we’ll see Max and Allison living in California.”
It isn’t out of the question to see many of the original cast back for the third film. In all honesty, it would be expected by Hocus Pocus fans. As well, Hocus Pocus 2 also gave the franchise a new villain in Gilbert (Sam Richardson) who’s story could develop even further in the newest addtion to the franchise.
Release Date for ‘Hocus Pocus 3″
As details are minimal, this is a guess, albeit an educated one. However, unlike the release of the sequel, although we’ll have to wait, it won’t be nearly as long. Many feel like the year 2025 is the year that we see the Sanderson sisters back for another romp around Salem. This is based on the appropriate times it takes to finalize a script, build sets, and finish casting, deriving the procedural time to make the second film happen.
So, if Gilbert’s second black flame candle is lit, or Book’s new owner, Becca (Whitney Peak), is the route writers wish to go for a new story, we’ve only got a couple of years to wait, better than 3,000 years, I’d say. No matter what they decide to do in terms of story-telling, as long as there’s a catchy musical number by Midler and her witchy sisters, and the reprisal of Billy Butcherson by Doug Jones, we’ll all most likely be gloriously happy with Hocus Pocus 3.