‘Hocus Pocus’ Took ‘Twice as Long’ to Film Thanks to 1 Difficult Cast Member

Spooky season is well underway which means that thousands of people have begun watching Hocus Pocus. Though the film premiered back in 1993, it has become a cult classic. In fact, the movie is so beloved that Disney has greenlit a sequel: Hocus Pocus 2. The sequel, which will premiere on Disney+ in the Fall of 2022, even boasts some of the original cast members.

Hocus Pocus cast member Bette Midler dressed as Winifred Sanderson at her Annual Hulaween Bash
‘Hocus Pocus’ cast member Bette Midler | Rebecca Smeyne/Getty Images

‘Hocus Pocus’ flopped at the box office when it first premiered

Though Hocus Pocus is well-loved now, it didn’t perform well when it was first released. In fact, it pretty much flopped. This was likely due to timing. Though the movie is clearly made for Fall, Disney chose to release the film in the dead of Summer. The film premiered on July 16, 1993, well before the Halloween season had begun. Because of this, the film performed poorly at the box office. Furthermore, critical reception for the film was overwhelmingly negative at the time.

Leonardo DiCaprio turned down a lead character in the cast

Fortunately, Hocus Pocus found its stride in later years. However, the movie that fans know and love could have looked completely different. For example, the role of Max Dennison could have been played by Oscar winner, Leonardo DiCaprio. However, when he turned it down, Omri Katz was cast in the role.

“There was talk originally for Max — Leonardo DiCaprio being Max,” Hocus Pocus producer, David Kirschner, shared with Entertainment Weekly. “And that was exciting because here was this young, cute, kid. And how exciting that was, the idea that maybe this kid, that had just done [What’s Eating] Gilbert Grape, would be doing this film. He turned it down.”

One ‘Hocus Pocus’ cast member made filming very difficult

Of course, Hocus Pocus went on to be a success even without DiCaprio’s star power. The cast truly enjoyed bringing the fun story to life. However, one unlikely cast member made filming much more difficult. While Sean Murray brought the human version of Thackery Binx to life, the cat version of him was portrayed by an actual cat. This was very time-consuming because cats are temperamental and proved to be very difficult to utilize in the film.

“What I discovered was that cats are impossible to train,” Murray revealed about filming Hocus Pocus in the aforementioned interview. “You can’t train a cat. Think we went twice as long in the movie as we were supposed to because of these cats.”

Thackery Binx is mostly portrayed by a real cat

Fans of Hocus Pocus may be surprised to learn that very few special effects were used for the cat version of Thackery. “Thackery himself — there are some moments where there are some animatronics, but for the most part, Thackery is a real cat,” Kirschner shared. Though it may have been challenging to utilize a real animal, clearly the payoff was worth the effort. Only time will tell if another animal is utilized for the sequel.

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