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Here's yet another reason why you should always bet on Bette (Midler). Last year, the acting and singing icon confirmed to Yahoo Entertainment that she would "absolutely" be back for Hocus Pocus 2 — the long-rumored sequel to Disney's 1993 Halloween favorite — alongside her witchy onscreen sisters Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker. "As soon as we sign on the dotted line," Midler promised at the time.
Flash-forward a few months, and it looks like that dotted line isn't blank anymore. Hocus Pocus 2 will start production later this year for a 2022 premiere on the Disney+ streaming service. And all three Sanderson sisters promptly confirmed the news on social media. "It's been 300 years... but we're BACK!" Midler teased on Instagram.
Originally slated to be helmed by Adam Shankman, the Hocus Pocus 2 director's chair will now be occupied by Anne Fletcher, whose previous credits include rom-com hits 27 Dresses and The Proposal. Set nearly three decades after the events of the first film, the sequel finds the Sanderson sisters once again being summoned from their supernatural exile to bedevil the residents of modern-day Salem, Mass.
And while that's all we know about the plot for now, you can expect another show-stopping song-and-dance number from Midler, one that's on par with her immortal rendition of "I Put a Spell on You" from the original Hocus Pocus. “Screamin’ Jay Hawkins made the song immortal; I just cribbed it,” Midler reminded us last year, adding that there were moments where she put her own stamp on the song. "[The lyric] 'Of all the witches working, I’m the worst' — that was my line."
The Hocus Pocus 2 news immediately cast a spell on Twitter.
— 𝐑𝐈𝐀Ń (@ratedRIAN) May 20, 2021
Bitch Hocus Pocus 2 is really happening 😭 pic.twitter.com/3Ckvw5oMCh
— mayratouchofglam (@mytouchofglam) May 20, 2021
— ♫ Adriano&Paulina ♫ (@keet0007) May 20, 2021
Hocus Pocus 2 being announced has just added 10 years on my life span. I used to watch that movie on the daily as a kid. I AM LIVING rn. pic.twitter.com/Efj4QVhE1B
— Kirst 🪐 (@kirsten93_) May 20, 2021
— Kirsten 📖 Book Editor & Author Coach (@KirstenReesEdit) May 20, 2021
Hocus Pocus's path from a rare Disney disaster to immortal October classic is a journey in and of itself. Written by master of horror Mick Garris and helmed by choreographer-turned-director, Kenny Ortega, the first film opened to mixed reviews and mediocre box office in the summer of 1993. But thanks to VHS and DVD, as well as seasonal cable airings, an entire generation grew up with Hocus Pocus fever, eventually paving the way for a revival.
In a 2015 interview with Yahoo Entertainment, producer David Kirschner — who dreamed up the Sanderson sisters as a bedtime story for his two daughters — said that he'd approached Disney about a made-for-TV remake with an all-new cast, but that version was ultimately never made. (It probably didn't help that Midler was lukewarm to the idea, complaining at the time, "It's going to be cheap!")
Still, that near-miss experience taught Kirschner — who receives an executive-producer credit on Hocus Pocus 2 — that there was definitely an appetite for more adventures with Sanderson siblings. Those feelings were confirmed when Midler, Najimy and Parker reunited last October for the one-night only virtual fundraiser In Search of the Sanderson Sisters. "Something began to happen that truly changed the way that project was viewed," Kirschner said in 2015 about Hocus Pocus's magical hold over audiences. "I’ve been doing this a long time, and it shocked me to be a part of something that lightning touched.”
Hocus Pocus 2 will premiere in 2022 on Disney+.
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