Fans of Hocus Pocus got their wish 29 years later with the release of Hocus pocus 2, but it’s worth asking if the sequel was worth the wait. The quality of a highly anticipated sequel can be difficult to predict. Sometimes the layover means the project won’t come back until the story is worth telling, but others are cynical money grabs that make audiences wish the filmmakers had left the characters in the past. regarding Hocus pocus 2, there are a few questions to answer, starting with why it took Disney so long to make it.
In front of Hocus pocus 2, the excitement for the return of the beloved Sanderson Sisters would always be balanced with Disney’s growing reputation for recycling old IP to declining quality. Hocus Pocus 2 seemed to be a good candidate to avoid this problem precisely because it wasn’t a big hit when it was initially released. It had no brand image to worry about or characters with deep-seated, persistent backstories to navigate. The filmmakers can be adventurous with the story of the sequel. On paper, it seemed like a recipe for success. Unfortunately, Hocus pocus 2 wouldn’t light a candle for the beloved classic from 29 years earlier.
Why it took 29 years to release Hocus Pocus 2
The roadmap for sequels in the early ’90s was very different from the studio franchise format many movies follow today. Depending on the measured values, Hocus Pocus was either a modest box office success or a flop, making just $45.4 million against a $28 million budget. Those numbers are barely enough to warrant a theatrical sequel, and while Disney certainly wasn’t above a television movie for a second episode, it’s unlikely any of the Sanderson Sister actresses would have been interested.
It was not until the early 2010s that attitudes towards film began to change and Hocus Pocus grew extremely popular as a family vacation movie. Openly embracing her connection to the film, Bette Midler dressed up as Winifred Sanderson during a 2015 tour. Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy both expressed interest in reprising their roles. Perhaps the strongest sign of its changing fortunes was that Disney began recording the… Hocus Pocus IP in its live shows at Disney World in 2015. A reboot TV movie was planned in 2017, but comments clearly indicated to Disney that audiences didn’t just want a new movie. Hocus Pocus, they wanted one that continued the story of the Sanderson witches. Then Disney+ came into the picture. With the new streaming service, the proposition of Hocus pocus 2 suddenly much more attractive. The sequel was officially announced in 2019 as a Disney+ exclusive.
Why Hocus Pocus 2 Wasn’t Worth the Wait
The problems with Hocus Pocus 2 start from the very first scene. The film begins with a flashback to the early years of the Sanderson Sisters in the 1600s, when they have a fateful encounter with Hannah Waddingham’s “Mother Witch” character and her magical book. This opening reveals the central problem with: Hocus pocus 2. The Sanderson Sisters are exactly the same now as they were when they were kids, and always will be. With no room for growth or change, Midler, Parker and Najimy are criminally left with little to work with, and their beloved characters feel tired and too dependent on references to the original Hocus Pocus movie. This wasted opening also undercuts the story’s heroes: Becca, Izzy, and Cassie, three close friends whose own relationships are so secured it’s hard to feel involved as they worry about their dwindling friendship. The movie had nothing new to say about the Sanderson Sisters, but was too scared to tell the story about anyone else.
The rest of the film continues to disappoint. In hocus pocus, the past and present are reflected in Max and Thackery’s shared goal of saving their young sisters. In Hocus pocus 2, the different plot threads seem to have little interest in each other. Tony Hale as the descendant of the wickedly zealous Reverend Traske is a wonderful source of conflict given up for the last act. The hilarious Sam Richardson is horribly underused as Gilbert in Hocus pocus 2. Doug Jones’ Billy Butcherson is usually there just for added nostalgia. In the end, it seems that filmmakers were so preoccupied with whether they could make Hocus pocus 2 they forgot to think why.
Hocus Pocus‘s legacy is unlikely to be affected by the existence of Hocus pocus 2. Those who enjoyed it can add it to their holiday viewing schedule, and those who haven’t can write it off as a half-baked TV movie based entirely on nostalgia. But for a film with as much heart as the original Hocus Pocusit’s hard not to look at Hocus pocus 2 and recognizing that it could and should have been so much more. Maybe they can get it right Hocus pocus 3.
NEXT: Is Hocus Pocus 3 Happening?! Disney really wants you to think that way