It’s one of the greatest Halloween movies of all time, and we watch it every single year — it never ceases to ‘put a spell on us.’ Here are the things you didn’t know about the Disney classic Hocus Pocus.
1. Producer David Kirschner came up with the story for Hocus Pocus and said he created it as a bedtime story for his daughters.
2. To pitch the story to Disney, the writers led executives into a dark room with broomsticks and a vacuum cleaner hanging from the ceiling. They also scattered 15 pounds of candy corn throughout the room in an effort to invoke Halloween nostalgia.
3. Omri Katz was very sick during his first audition and was initially rejected for the role of Max Dennison.
4. Leonardo DiCaprio was reportedly offered a ton of money to play the part of Max, but turned it down to star in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, a role which won him critical praise and nominations for both a Golden Globe AND an Oscar.
Not too shabby.
5. Leo had this to say about turning down the role: “I don’t know where the hell I got the nerve. You live in an environment where you’re influenced by people telling you to make a lot of money and strike while the iron’s hot. But if there’s one thing I’m very proud of, it’s being a young man who was sticking to my guns.”
6. Rosie O’Donnell was originally offered the role of Mary Sanderson, but she turned it down because she didn’t want to play a “scary witch” and felt uneasy about playing a character who kills children.
Bad move, Rosie!
7. During a 2008 interview, Bette Midler said that out of all her movies, this was her favorite role.
We agree, Bette!
8. Thora Birch also said recently: “The most fun I ever had on a film was Hocus Pocus.”
9. Kathy Najimy has said she watches the movie with her family every year.
10. Hocus Pocus was written as a Disney Channel Original Movie, but ended up being made into a motion picture.
Good move, Disney!
11. Unlike most Halloween-themed and horror movies, the movie was released in the summer of 1993 rather than the fall, which possibly meant it didn’t perform as well at the box office as it could have.
12. A major goof in the movie is that it takes place on Halloween 1993, which fell on a Sunday. School would not have been in session that day.
13. A historical inaccuracy in the movie is that the Sanderson sisters were hanged on October 31, 1693 but the Salem Witch Trials ended in May 1693.
14. Sarah Jessica Parker actually did sing “Come Little Children” for the movie.
15. “Come Little Children” was written by James Horner, who co-wrote (and won an Oscar for) “My Heart Will Go On,” from Titanic, starring none other than Leo DiCaprio (how many degrees of separation?!)
16. In the scene where the Sanderson sisters are to be hanged, SJP’s character laughs with her mouth open, and you can clearly see fillings in her mouth where she’d had cavities.
Witches didn’t have that advanced level of dentistry, plus, eww. Carrie Bradshaw wouldn’t approve!
17. A makeup artist on the film said they had to tone down the makeup as early tests showed it was “too scary.”
18. In the scene where Billy cuts his stitches open, those were real moths flying out of his mouth. The crew used a dental dam–like device to keep them from going down his throat. EW!
19. A choreographer worked with all three witches to show them how to properly ride their brooms/vacuums.
20. The cast took a trip to Salem, which fell on the 300th anniversary of the witch trials.
21. “Satan” and his wife are played by real-life brother and sister Garry Marshall and Penny Marshall.
22. There were nine cats who played Thackery Binx. Each was used for a different skill — one swatted, one slept, one purred, etc.
23. In many other countries, including France, Brazil, and Argentina, Hocus Pocus is called Abracadabra, which is equally as cool.
24. According to a writer and co-executive producer, Hocus Pocus was almost called Disney’s Halloween House. Not as catchy.
25. The film rights almost ended up going to Steven Spielberg, but Disney won out.