NEW YORK — It’s been 29 years since we’ve seen the Sanderson sisters, and the big question is: are they worth the wait?
The highly anticipated “Hocus Pocus 2” comes to Disney+ on Friday, ushering in three new high schoolers in Salem, Massachusetts tasked with battling Winifred Sanderson (Bette Midler), Sarah Sanderson (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary Sanderson (Kathy Najimy).
The sequel to the now cult classic ‘Hocus Pocus’ was written by 34-year-old Jen D’Angelo, who says the pressure of taking on a fan favorite was “terrifying”.
“I’m a huge fan, so I know what ‘Hocus Pocus’ means to people,” D’Angelo told USA TODAY ahead of the New York premiere on Tuesday.
Najimy, 65, has brushed aside any fears about whether the film will live up to fans’ expectations.
“I personally don’t have any pressure because you make a lot of plans and then you leave and move on to the next one,” the actress said. “It’s really in people’s hands, whether they like it or not. When it happens, you’re happy and when it’s not, you move on. It can’t really rock your world. in this job.”
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The ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ star, known for his character’s distinct growl and unintended humor, recalls the original’s release in 1993 and how it wasn’t as popular as it was. it has become so over time.
“Was I surprised this movie got such a big deal? Yeah! Because when ‘Hocus Pocus’ hit theaters, it went down well,Najimy recalls, adding that it wasn’t until it was shown on television that generations began to watch it as a family activity.
“Hocus Pocus” debuted fourth at the box office, grossing just $8,125. Overall, it grossed $39 million on a budget of $28 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
Over time, Najimy jokes that the “Hocus Pocus” sequel is immortal, much like the Sanderson sisters. “We can’t kill him!” He won’t die! she exclaims.
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Lilia Buckingham, who plays high school teenager Cassie in the sequel, is younger than the original film. At 19, she’s proof that the original movie has remained a Halloween staple.
“It was always ‘Hocus Pocus’, ‘Rocky Horror (Picture Show)’, ‘The Craft’ and I watched them every Halloween,” she recalled.
The idea that people might be watching the Disney+ sequel 29 years from now is “impossible to fathom,” Buckingham said. “It’s kind of the coolest thing I think I’ll ever do in my life. … I just can’t think of it.”
Her co-star Belissa Escobedo is also a newcomer to the franchise. Escobedo, 24, says she resonated with the message of “brotherhood” and “loyalty” in the first film after seeing the magic of the Sandersons.
“In this film, you see that again,” she says of the common thread between the films. “You see the Sanderson sisters come back and you see a new side to their sisterhood. I think it’s really beautiful.”
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‘Hocus Pocus 2’ answers many questions fans have been asking for 29 years: How did the Sanderson sisters become the witches they are today? What happened between Billie Butcherson (Doug Jones) and Winifred? What’s wrong with the book? And do the Sanderson sisters know about anti-aging beauty products?
The series manages to play on the nostalgia with flashback clips, but overall it pushes a journey forward for “Hocus Pocus” to continue.
D’Angelo teases a few moments that didn’t make it and says they could go “in the third.”
So, will the Sanderson sisters continue to wreak havoc in Salem? “I will do anything. I have ideas so I will write it with pleasure tomorrow,” she adds.