It doesn’t take a black flame candle lit by a virgin on the eve of a full moon to know that Hocus Pocus 2 is a thing and that it’s headed straight for the boiling cauldron of goat offal that is Disney+. But it may take one to know that the film has found a director in Adam Shankman, whose last feature was What Men Want (2019), preceded by Rock of Ages (2012). It’s being scripted by Jen D’Angelo, who has seven writing credits to her name, her biggest being two full episodes of Workaholics.
This week’s bylines shouldn’t have had anything to do with Adam Shankman, or Hocus Pocus 2 finding a director. Poke me, they should read something like this: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy are still not signed for Hocus Pocus 2! As Peter Glagowski pointed out, this sequel only works with its original trio of witches. A reboot wouldn’t need them, but without question, a sequel does. It’s been suggested that they’re going to come back on board, and that recent Disney reprisals by thought-to-be-retired Rick Moranis, as well as Emilio Estevez (Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The Mighty Ducks) is proof that Disney+ will throw enough money at anyone to pull them back in, but money isn’t everything. Of course money’s everything; who am I kidding?
Only, last we heard from Bette Middler on the topic, she seemed none to keen to reprise her role as Sanderson sister head honcho Winifred, or the franchise in general. In 2017, Middler told People that a proposed Disney Channel reboot was going to be “cheap.” She wanted nothing to do with the knockoff garbage and laughed at the idea of making an appearance. There you go: Middler’s biggest problem with the revival was a perceived lack of funding: Google, translate Bette Middler’s “cheap” to english. Cheap: Disney not forking over enough forking mouse moolah to make Middler put on her badass witch threads ever again.
Co-stars Omri Katz (Max the virgin), Vinessa Shaw (Allison), and Thora Birch (Dani) are presumably available to reprise their now adult roles, should they be needed–though both Shaw and Birch have carved out respectable acting careers since 1993, even though I suspect Birch wonders how Ghost World co-star Scarlett Johansson is Black Window while she herself is a barely recognizable version of herself currently playing a woman who wears a zombie pelt as a mask on the still not great The Walking Dead.
But what about the non-human cast? Arguably the best part of the film was the wisecracking cat Binx, voiced by longtime voice actor and recurring Disney alum, Jason Marsden. One of the things that made Binx great, outside of his amazing digs at a fifteen-year-old boy who happened to be a virgin, was the realism of the character. Binx was pre-CGI animals. That meant he was portrayed by at least one real cats for the more active scenes and a physical puppet for the closeups and speaking shots. There’s little doubt that the next iteration of Binx would be doomed to the Call of the Wild or The Lion King (2019) treatment, so maybe it’s a blessing that Binx’s character was redeemed at the finale of Hocus Pocus, his spirit regaining his human form before joining his sister’s spirit to ascend to wherever it is Disney’s child actors ascend.