Bedtime Story Origins
Producer David Kirschner wrote Hocus Pocus as a bedtime story for his children. Thinking he was onto something, he submitted it to Muppets Magazine where readers responded with raves and the rest is history. Probably helped that Kirschner knew a lot about scaring kids – he produced the “Child’s Play” movies.
Doug Jones Is Billy Butcherson
Doug Jones’ name and face might not be that recognizable to you – and for good reason. Jones has been buried under prosthetics for some of his best work, including as the creature who captures Sally Hawkins’ heart (and ours) in Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning “The Shape Of Water”. Currently appearing as Saru in TV’s “Star Trek: Discovery”, he’s creeped audiences out in the “Hellboy” films, “Pan’s Labyrinth”, “Tank Girl”, “Lights Out”, “The Bye Bye Man”, and “Batman Returns”.
Leonardo DiCaprio Was Almost Cast
According to a 2014 interview with Variety, Leonardo DiCaprio says he was offered “more money than I ever dreamed of” to play Max in “Hocus Pocus”. Fresh off of playing homeless teen Luke on “Growing Pains”, DiCaprio passed on the part to star in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and "This Boy's Life", leaving "Eerie, Indiana" star Omri Katz to nab the role.
The Nine Lives Of Thackery Binx
Binx the cat had nine lives. The role was filled by nine different feline actors, each with unique special skills. The child actors allegedly got tired of having to act with the different black cats, each with their own temperaments who had to be coerced into behaving with the help of a “clicker” to get them to do their trick.
Uncredited in the film, the “Devil” and his wife are played by real-life siblings, directors Garry and Penny Marshall.
Weird Release Date
The ultimate Halloween movie hit theatres in the terrifying month of… July. That’s probably why it was a box office flop, earning poor reviews after its initial release. Luckily for the Sanderson Sisters – and for us – the movie gained cult status after it was released on VHS, making it an appropriate annual October watch.
‘American Beauty’ Neighbourhood
Filming “American Beauty” would have been a case of déjà vu for Thora Birch. The kids celebrate the burning of the Sanderson Sisters in a neighbourhood that would serve as the backdrop for “American Beauty”, with the house that Birch’s character Jane lives in visible in the background.
The Cast’s Favourite Film
In a 2008 interview, Bette Midler declared “Hocus Pocus” her favourite of all of her films. Fellow Sanderson Sister Kathy Najimy revealed she and her family watch the movie once a year while Thora Birch, who was 10 at the time of filming, reportedly once declared it “the most fun I ever had on a film.”
Kathy Najimy’s Fangirl Past
Long before Kathy Najimy won the role of Mary Sanderson, she was a huge Bette Midler fan. She admitted to sneaking backstage at two of the Divine Miss M’s concerts – once dressed as a bunny, and another time disguised as a singing telegram.
In 2013, cast and crew including Omri Katz, Thora Birch, Kathy Najimy, Vinessa Shaw and Doug Jones reunited for a special 20th anniversary panel discussion.
In 2018, the cast once again reunited for the all-star 90-minute “Hocus Pocus” 25th Anniversary Halloween Bash at the iconic Hollywood Forever Cemetery which was recorded for a TV special.