25 Unexpected 'Hocus Pocus' Movie Facts That Are Spellbinding

Kayla Gleeson | Oct 12, 2018 Movies

Hocus Pocus Bette Midler
DisneyHocusPocus/Facebook

The 25th Anniversary of Hocus Pocus is coming up -- and if anyone doesn't feel old yet, we're here to take everyone back to the '90s! Freeform is hosting a Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Halloween Bash, set to air on Saturday, October 20, as a part of the network's month-long "31 Nights of Halloween" event -- which is going to feature a cast reunion! (Bring on the witches!) Like everyone else, we're unimaginably excited about this, even though there seems to be one problem: Bette Midler hasn't been confirmed she's attending yet. But since she's been posting an awful lot about Hocus Pocus ... we're wondering if she'll show up as a surprise! (This wouldn't be a huge surprise to us as she's the queen of stealing the show, after all.)

With so much talk about a Hocus Pocus sequel in the works -- and promo posters floating across the interwebs -- we'd be shocked if the original cast didn't band together for the 25th anniversary. Hearsay or not, nothing can replace the original Disney movie -- and that's a fact we all can agree on.

Just thinking about Hocus Pocus brings up fond childhood memories. There's so much we missed as kids. For instance, did anyone know that Binx, the cat, can actually be seen sitting on his sister Emily's grave at one point? Even better, do folks realize they can visit locations from the film in Salem, Massachusetts?

In honor of our favorite witches, we've put together a fun list of facts and trivia that'll fill fans with Halloween cheer! And if that isn't enough, Hocus Pocus showings are going to be in quite a few theaters nationwide!

The Sanderson Sisters are back, baby!

  • Guess Who Was Originally Supposed To Play Max

    1

    That's right, Leonardo DiCaprio was originally tapped to take the lead role instead of our beloved Omri Katz. However, Leo turned it down so that he could play Arnie Grape in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape -- so it all worked out.

  • What's Binx's Real Name?

    2

    Our favorite black cat, Binx, was the one who (tried) to keep our heroes out of trouble in the movie. People might remember his full name as, "Zachary Binx," but actually? It's "Thackery Binx." People from the 1600s sure knew how to name 'em.

  • Speaking of Thackery ...

    3

    Who knew that the human actor for Binx, Sean Murray, didn't actually voice the cat? The voice acting for cat-Thackery was done by Jason Marsden. Even if his name doesn't sound familiar, Jason's face likely would as he played Nelson on Full House.

    Who knew?!

  • 'Hocus Pocus' Wasn't Made for Halloween

    4

    Contrary to popular belief, Hocus Pocus was actually released during the summer. It's like the Die Hard argument: "Is it a holiday movie?"

  • It Wasn't a Hit in Theaters

    5

    In fact, it got quite a few bad reviews from critics, and ticket sales plummeted as weeks went by. Entertainment Weekly even called it a "piece of corny slapstick trash." Welp, the publication ate its own words after it started becoming a Disney TV classic.

  • The Origin of the Script Is Too Cute

    6

    David Kirschner, the scriptwriter, originally invented the plot as a bedtime story for his kids. Then, he decided to flesh it out and write it!

    So sweet.

  • But It Wasn't Always Cutesy

    7

    The first draft of the formal Hocus Pocus script apparently had way less comedy and a lot more frightening scenes. Supposedly, it was more of a horror movie! All the characters were supposed to be children, too, giving the kid viewers a more helpless, relatable feel.

    @Dark Disney: Show us the Forbidden Hocus Pocus script!

  • The Pitch Was Hilarious, to Say the Least

    8

    Filmmakers had the Disney execs walk into a dark room that was decorated with two broomsticks and a vacuum cleaner dangling from the ceiling. And to top it all off? They decked the entire space with 15 pounds of candy. Talk about sweetening up a boring old conference!

    Needless to say, it worked.

  • Wiry Broomsticks

    9

    If viewers look closely, they can actually see the wires that hold the flying broomsticks up in a few shots!

  • Thora Birch Never Left the Neighborhood

    10

    At one point, Dani and the other characters are shown talking in front of a house a the neighborhood before venturing off to a nearby park. Thora Birch's future character (Jane Burnham in American Beauty) wound up living in that very same house for that movie.

    Wild.
  • The Kids Hated Working With the Cats

    11

    People would think that getting to play with cats would be a dream job, right? Well, maybe it's not. Multiple cats were used for Binx's live action movements because different ones had different talents. Some were good at jumping, some were good at climbing or cuddling. But for every single cat, the kids would have to earn their trust by using clickers and treats to get them to cooperate for a scene.

    The cuteness got very old, very fast.

  • Omri Katz Almost Wasn't Max

    12

    During his first audition for the role of Max, Omri Katz was actually sick. And because it affected his performance, he was initially rejected. But apparently, he made a better impression at callbacks.

    That's what we call acting through it!

  • Speaking of Casting

    13

    Who else knew Hocus Pocus originally eyed Rosie O'Donnell to play Mary Sanderson? She rejected it outright, because she didn't want to play a "scary witch."

    Her loss! Kathy owns.

  • Virgins & Candles

    14

    This went right over our heads!

    When Max and Allison repeat the legend of a virgin lighting the Black Flame Candle, they are about to light it themselves. Max subtly asks Allison if she'd like to do the honors -- underhandedly asking her if she's a virgin. As a kid, it seemed like she turned down the offer because she's scared, but this was an innuendo for the fact that she might not have been a virgin at all.

    Smooth, Disney.

  • Sarah Jessica Parker Has Witchcraft in Her Blood

    15

    Ready for the unbelievable? SJP may have played an impressive Sarah Sanderson, but she had a leg up on the competition -- considering her ancestor, Esther Elwell, was actually accused of being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials! She was arrested after a girl allegedly saw Esther strangling her neighbor, but escaped going to trial.

    We don't know if she was ever actually a witch, but if she was, she passed on those skills to SJP.

  • Deleted Scenes

    16

    In one of the original trailers for the film, Hocus Pocus fans can see two scenes that are never actually in the movie.

    Can anyone pick out what never made it into the famous flick?

  • School Day Oops

    17

    Since Hocus Pocus takes place on Halloween in 1993, it would technically have fallen on a Sunday ... which means that classroom scene makes no sense.

    Does Salem just regularly have school on weekends?

  • 'Come Little Children'

    18

    Wanna know two really cool things about the song Sarah Sanderson sings to lure the children out? Sarah Jessica Parker actually sang that herself! James Horner wrote the song. (He's the guy who wrote the score for Titanic.)

    He's just really good at hauntingly beautiful tunes!

  • TV Show Crossover?

    19

    In an interview with ABC News, Vinessa Shaw revealed something hysterical about the set. 

    "Thora and I would sing a million songs and run around and be crazy on the Disney lot. Tim Allen's show 'Home Improvement' was filming, so the kids of 'Hocus Pocus' and 'Home Improvement' were on the lot and high-fiving each other."

  • Tight-Knit Cast

    20

    Want another cool fact about Hocus Pocus? They were super close!

    "Oh my gosh, we loved each other," Vinessa Shaw revealed about the cast and their closeness. "Omri's such a cool dude. We were best buds ... We were good friends. He didn't make me feel nervous at all. Anything that was tension-building, we'd just laugh ... We hung out with Doug Jones [the zombie, Billy Butcherson] and laughed with him and Sean Murray and we really just had the best time."

    Something even funnier that Vinessa admitted about the cast?

    "I don't think any of us had any idea of the magnitude of how popular it would be til this day."

  • The Sanderson Statues

    21

    Here's some spooky and wonderful trivia for ya: When Winnie Sanderson becomes a statue at the end of the movie, that wasn't CGI -- it's a real statue!

    In fact, the studio had seven Winnie Sanderson statues made. Why? To this day, no one really knows. But what we do know is that viewers can see one of them at the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Orlando, Florida.

  • Remember *That* Infamous Book?

    22

    That's actually at the Planet Hollywood restaurant, too!

    Another fun fact: Even though it seems Bette Midler is reading from this book, she was actually using a dictionary of old curse words so her lines would have a bit more authenticity to them.

    What an actress!

  • The Sisters Hold This Movie Close

    23

    To this day, Bette Midler states that Hocus Pocus is her favorite film that she's ever done -- and Kathy Najimy makes it a tradition to watch it every year with her family. So cute!

  • So Who Is Billy?

    24

    He is the legendary Doug Jones -- who has played almost every monster from our childhood and beyond. Similar roles include Abe Sapien from Hellboy, the Faun and the Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth, and the Amphibian Man in The Shape of Water.

    His experience in the art of mime and contortion has given him the Hollywood reputation of a "professional monster."

  • The Cast Is Coming Back Together -- Finally!

    25

    Here, they go over memories, answer questions, and have a lot of laughs about the set of the hit Halloween classic.

    Oh how we love Hocus Pocus!

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