Why Thora Birch Wasn't In 'Hocus Pocus' 2

Photo credit: Chelsea Guglielmino - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chelsea Guglielmino - Getty Images

Another witching hour is upon us. Months after sources told Variety that a follow-up to 1993’s Hocus Pocus was officially brewing at Disney+, the movie is confirmed—and it's finally hit its 2022 release date. Disney originally announced that Hocus Pocus 2, a “spooky sequel” to the original film, would land at Disney+, with Anne Fletcher attached to direct.

Now that it is finally out, here are some answers to pressing questions from viewers.

It was released on September 30.

Hocus Pocus 2 started streaming on Disney+ on Friday, September 30—so you have a whole month to stream it before Halloween night.

There's a trailer, teaser and photos now, too.

“Lock up your children! Yes, Salem, we're back!” Winifred says in the teaser, after a pair of high schoolers accidentally revive the Sandersons.

Disney teased what's to come in the synopsis: “It’s been 29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they are looking for revenge. Now it is up to three high-school students to stop the ravenous witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on Salem before dawn on All Hallow’s Eve.”

Photo credit: Disney+
Photo credit: Disney+
Photo credit: Disney+
Photo credit: Disney+
Photo credit: Photo Credit: Matt Kennedy - Disney+
Photo credit: Photo Credit: Matt Kennedy - Disney+

At the D23 expo event in September 2022, they released a full trailer showing the Sanderson sisters' origins and welcoming back the living breathing book, the "friendly zombie," and a black cat who looks a whole lot like Binx.

It also includes Sarah Jessica Parker doing the splits.

The sequel has a new director.

Adam Shankman, the director behind films including Hairspray and A Walk to Remember originally signed to helm the movie with a script from Workaholics writer and co-producer Jen D’Angelo, and before Shankman, Kenny Ortega of High School Musical notoriety was attached. Now, Fletcher will take the wheel due to Shankman's scheduling conflicts with production on another Disney sequel, Disenchanted.

“As heartbroken as I am that I won’t be able to direct my friends Bette, Sarah Jessica, and Kathy in what is sure to be nothing short of a major event for Disney+, due to scheduling conflicts, I couldn’t be more pleased to be handing over the reins to Anne, who has brought so much laughter and joy into people’s lives with her previous work,” Shankman said of the news.

Fletcher is best known for directing 27 Dresses, The Proposal, and Dumplin’. “I am so grateful to be able to play a part in bringing these witches back to life, and to be working with my friends at Disney again makes it all the more special,” Fletcher said of the news.

The film will premiere exclusively on Disney+.

Rather than take the traditional theatrical route, the Hocus Pocus sequel will premiere exclusively on Disney's streaming service. It joins projects such as the Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian and MCU series Wandavision as original projects on the streamer.

On Disney+ Day, November 12, 2021, the mega-studio released an image from the set of the new series, showing the original sisters back together again.

The original cast is making a comeback.

In a May 2020 interview on SiriusXM’s Radio Andy, Sarah Jessica Parker first gave an update on the sequel—and her co-stars’ involvement in it. “Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and I are all very hospitable to the idea,” she responded. “I think for a long time, people were talking about it as if people were moving forward with it in a real way but we were unaware of it.” She added, “We’ve agreed publicly to the right people, yes, that would be a very, very fun idea, so we'll see what the future holds.”

This wasn't the first time SJP teased her role in the sequel. In October 2019, The New York Times reported that a sequel was in the works with Disney+. Around the same time, Parker shared a throwback photo of her cast members during the original film. In the comments section she was asked, “any chance of a sequel?” to which she responded, “We have all said yes. Now we wait.”

In May 2021, Disney officially confirmed all three original witches would be reprising their roles for the sequel. Production began this fall—just in time for Halloween.

That said, there will be a number of new faces in the sequel as well. Confirmed cast members include:

  • Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso)

  • Tony Hale (Arrested Development)

  • Sam Richardson (Veep)

  • Whitney Peak (Gossip Girl)

  • Lilia Buckingham (Crown Lake)

  • Belissa Escobedo (American Horror Stories)

  • Juju Brener (Vanquish)

  • Froy Gutierrez (Teen Wolf)

  • Taylor Henderson

  • Nina Kitchen

There's also one person who was notably absent: Thora Birch. Birch played Dani in the original film, the little girl dressed as a witch who warns her brother Max not to light the black candle that inevitably summons the Sanderson sisters. In a recent interview, birch told ET Canada that she really wanted to be on the project.

“There were three options we had for how to bring Dani back, all of which I was excited by,” she explained, adding that “by the time they got around to filming, I was already on something else.”

There was another reboot in development before.

Fans may remember that a TV movie remake of the beloved film was in development in 2017, with Scarlett Lacey (The Royals) writing the script.

However, that project never materialized following comments Midler made to People about the movie being “cheap” and Ortega’s insistence that the original trio should return instead. “I think it would be much more fun to bring the ladies back,” the director told Entertainment Tonight. “They’re all still vital and in their prime and capable of doing so much that it would be great to see Bette and Kathy and Sarah come back together to do another movie and I think they would like to.”

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