The minds behind Hocus Pocus 3 are brewing up a fresh potion of sisterly magic, screenwriter Jen D'Angelo exclusively tells EW.
Though the months-long WGA strike slowed Disney's development of a third Hocus Pocus film amid the streaming success of Hocus Pocus 2, D'Angelo says she's currently working on continuing the story of the Sanderson Sisters witches with "full idealism" over the potential return of Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy in the third film.
"We're still in the story phase, we're still working on it. We've been working on some ideas, and it's been fun to dive back into that world and we have so many directions in which to go and so many new characters to explore," D'Angelo says, going on to tease her interest in expanding on a key character from the 2022 sequel. "We've only scratched the surface of Hannah Waddingham's mother witch."
Disney+ (2) Hannah Waddingham in 'Hocus Pocus 2'; Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker in 'Hocus Pocus 2'
D'Angelo confirms that no storylines are concrete just yet and that she and Disney continue to explore where they might take the Sanderson Sisters next.
When asked if Waddingham's sorceress — who's seen bestowing child versions of Winnie, Mary, and Sarah with their beloved Book in a brief prologue set in 1600s Salem — is the same "mother" the ladies reference throughout the script of director Kenny Ortega's 1993 original, D'Angelo confirms.
"I believe that she's that mother, that she is the scorpion pie mother, and that they had a much more significant relationship with her than we've yet to see," D'Angelo says. "But, maybe we will see."
She adds that "anything's on the table" for Hocus Pocus 3, but the one thing that runs consistently is that "we for sure want to see them again as adults" in the upcoming project, though she was enamored by the young actors who portrayed them as children at the beginning of the second movie.
"I'm hoping that we are able to explore every aspect of these stories and take these characters on a bunch of fun adventures. 3 is still very much in the early stages, we don't really know what it is, but we're exploring all options and I think everybody is so delighted by the reaction that Hocus Pocus 2 got, and we're excited to continue those stories," D'Angelo finishes.
EW has reached out to Disney and a representative for Waddingham for comment.
Disney+ The Sanderson Sisters return in 'Hocus Pocus 2'
D'Angelo also says she's aware of and wants to engage with what fans want to see from such a nostalgia-driven franchise — up to a specific limit.
"I want to do right by the fans and I definitely want to keep in mind what they want to see, but, at the same time, I feel like movies can go slightly awry when they're only catering to the fans and trying to check off a list, like, 'We got this and this, so the fans should be happy,'" D'Angelo admits. "In reality, you want to make sure that the movie is solid on its own, and the fan service moments are baked into the story and that they're satisfying and not just tacked on."
Hocus Pocus 2 earned positive critical reviews and broke records upon its September 2022 debut on Disney+, with the studio eventually confirming over the summer that a third film was in the works. It's also been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding TV Movie. Though Midler, Parker, Najimy, and Billy Butcherson actor Doug Jones returned for the second installment, ex-child actors Omri Katz (Max), Vinessa Shaw (Allison), and Thora Birch (Dani) did not, prompting criticism from many of the series' hardcore fans.
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