Disney is continuing its current running tradition of remaking classic movies with modern technology by bringing a new version of Hocus Pocus into existence.
This business model has been proven successful for Disney – they’re essentially re-releasing all of their greatest hits, safe in the knowledge that these movies will have a huge draw at the box office, while not needing to work all that hard in making the films themselves.
Originality is not the order of the day, and as such, it’s not a huge surprise that we’ll be getting a new Hocus Pocus – after all, if Tim Burton is in charge of Dumbo, it was only a matter of time before Bette Midler’s Halloween virgin-shaming comedy got updated for a modern audience too.
(Just as an aside, isn’t it weird that the original Hocus Pocus, a Disney kids movie, spends so much of its runtime making fun of a teenager for being a virgin? It feels like a weird moral choice for Disney to be preaching the virtues of underage sex.)
Don’t expect this new Hocus Pocus to be the new Beauty and the Beast, though, with a massive CGI budget and some of the modern era’s most recognizable faces (even if their voices are provided by a fax machine covered in oatmeal). The new version of the classic Halloween movie won’t have any of that stuff, because it’s going to be a TV movie that’s made for the Disney Channel.
This isn’t to say that Disney Channel movies are terrible. Some (not all) can be pretty spectacular works of art that inspire a cult following.
Some give the world Zac Efron, which, for better or worse, has definitely made a huge impact on the current cinematic landscape.
By and large, though, Disney Channel movies don’t get to enjoy the same level of big budget splendor that we get with a cinematic release. There won’t be any huge stars in this new film, it won’t do anything too challenging from a special effects perspective, and it’s probably worth assuming that it won’t be the biggest movie of whatever year it’s eventually released.
In fairness, it probably won’t be that different to the original, which seemed amazing back in the Nineties, but which is pretty dated by today’s standards. Cheap production value, lackluster effects, and a cast that’s essentially carried by Better Midler.
Perhaps if this new movie can get one good, solid, talented actor to play one of the witches, this will turn out well. Otherwise, it will at very worst be a forgettable Disney Channel original movie, so no harm done, really.
Perhaps the biggest downside to this endeavor is that it makes the prospect of a genuine Hocus Pocus 2, made for movie audiences, seem less likely.
Heck, this new Disney Channel movie could simply be a remake – updating the story for the modern era works perfectly as a continuation of the story if you come up with some kind of macguffin to bring back the Sanderson Sisters with new actors in the lead roles (or, alternatively, find out what Sarah Jessica Parker is doing these days and whether or not she’d give this another spin).
Just, if we are to have an updated version of this movie, let’s try and make the plot less tied to the amount of teenage sex the main characters are having.
The whole virginity-as-a-plot-device angle was weird enough when it appeared in Transformers: The Last Knight. We don’t need to go there again in another kid’s movie.