‘Hocus Pocus’: Why The Movie Was A Major Flop When It First Premiered

You can fight us if you want to, but Hocus Pocus is the best Halloween movie of all time. While kids these days are all about those terrifying Annabelle and Purge films–back in the day, we had the Sanderson sisters to get our hearts racing.

If you have no idea what we’re talking about, the 1993 film followed Max Dennison (Omri Katz) and his little sister, Dani (Thora Birch). Feeling unsettled after moving with their parents from Los Angeles, California to Salem, Massachusetts–Max, in particular, is not too keen on the folklore and superstitions of the town. However, during a forced outing to take Dani trick-or-treating, Max finds himself desperately trying to impress his crush, Allison (Vinessa Shaw).

Ignoring Allison’s warning, Max inadvertently releases the devilish Sanderson witches from their slumber and Winifred, Mary and Sarah (Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker) begin wreaking havoc on the town — desperate to kill virgins, and absorbing their youth to become immortal forever.

Today — Hocus Pocus is a cult classic, especially during the fall months when it’s played continuously on the Disney Channel and Freeform. However, when the film was first released it was a massive flop.

‘Hocus Pocus’ cost Disney $16.5 million

It’s one thing for a movie to make very little money at the box office, but when it’s costing a studio money, you know it’s a massive failure. Hocus Pocus made only $8.1 million during its opening weekend, though it had a $28 million budget. The critics absolutely massacred our beloved film. The late Gene Siskel wrote in The Chicago Tribune that it was, a “dreadful witches’ comedy with the only tolerable moment coming when Bette Midler presents a single song.”

Meanwhile his colleague the late Roger Ebert wrote in The Chicago Sun-Times, that the movie was “a confusing cauldron in which there is great activity but little progress, and a lot of hysterical shrieking.” In 2018–actress  Vinessa Shaw told Page Six,

[Hocus Pocus] was actually a flop when it came out. [Bette Midler] had gotten an Oscar for her work and had all these prestigious things that she’d been doing and then she decides to do this movie which in the critics’ eyes, it was just appalling. They were just thinking, ‘How could she do this?’

‘Hocus Pocus’ became a cult classic

Thankfully, we know good content when we see it, and Hocus Pocus has defined its initial release and the critics. When it first debuted on DVD –sales were massive and it garnered record-breaking views on Freeform’s “13 Nights of Halloween.”

In 2018, the cast reunited for the Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Halloween Bash and we lived for it.

‘Hocus Pocus 2’ is coming to Disney +

Disney is taking a gamble on the Sanderson sisters once again with a forthcoming sequel to the iconic flick. There aren’t too many details just yet, but Variety is reporting that Disney + has brought Workaholics writer and co-producer Jen D’Angelo on board to write the script for the new witchy tale.

Though we doubt, SJP and Bettle Middler, in particular, would want to return to the sequel, we’re just excited for a new generation of viewers to discover this epic Halloween classic.