Released on Disney+ in the fall of 2022, Hocus Pocus 2 was a massive success. On the Tuesday following its debut, in fact, the Walt Disney Company declared it the "#1 film premiere on Disney+ domestically" – the metric used being hours streamed during its first three days. It was made clear immediately that fans are interested in new adventures featuring the Sanderson Sisters... which brings us to the news today that Hocus Pocus 3 is officially in development.
As far as details are concerned, we unfortunately have very little to provide, as the source of this news is a single sentence in a New York Times profile about Disney executive Sean Bailey. The piece mentions the sequel as being in the works alongside a number of live-action remakes of animated classics – specifically Moana starring Dwayne Johnson, Hercules, and Lilo And Stitch. It's further noted that the Disney's live-action division "makes two or three big-budget films annually for release in theaters and three modestly budgeted movies for Disney+," but it isn't specified which lane Hocus Pocus 3 is fitting into.
Hocus Pocus 2 was clearly a big win for Disney's proprietary streaming service, and there's an obvious logic in the sequel having the same distribution method as its predecessor – but one has to wonder if that will actually be seen as the best course of action for the project. Streaming numbers aren't made public, but it's possible that Hocus Pocus 3 could be a much more profitable and impactful venture for the studio as a theatrical release. It was a question when Hocus Pocus 2 came out, and it's a question now.
In the last year, there have been certain developments that make a pivot to theatrical for Hocus Pocus 3 seem possible. For starters, there's Disney's decision to give Zach Cregger's Barbarian a run in cinemas instead of having it go straight to streaming – which turned to be a smart play, as the film was a box office success in the fall of 2022. Additionally, this past weekend saw the release of Rob Savage's The Boogeyman, which was planned as a Hulu exclusive before Stephen King helped get it theatrical distribution. Obviously Hocus Pocus 3 is a different kind of horror movie than those two titles, but as an all-audiences friendly feature, it could potentially be a massive big screen hit during the 2024/2025 spooky season and make a much bigger pop culture impact than it would as a Disney+ library title.
Because of the on-going WGA Strike, development on the sequel is probably halted right now, but we'll certainly be curious to learn more details about the project. Will Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy return as the Sanderson sisters? Will Anne Fletcher come back to helm after directing Hocus Pocus 2? Will Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, and Lilia Buckingham be back as Becca, Izzy, and Cassie? Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend in the coming days/weeks/months for updates.