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After years of waiting (29, to be exact), Hocus Pocus 2 has finally debuted on Disney+. Some of the OG actors reprise their roles from the original 1993 film, including Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker as the unforgettable Sanderson sisters. And Doug Jones returns as Billy Butcherson, the zombified ex-lover of Winifred — er, we mean, Sarah Sanderson.
But original stars Max Dennison, Dani Dennison, and Allison aren’t featured in the sequel. In case you forget, Max is the virgin who lit the Black Flame Candle three decades ago, resurrecting the Sanderson witches. All Halloween night, he, his younger sister Dani, and his crush Allison try to stop the sisters from stealing the souls of children and running amok, amok, amok around Salem, Massachusetts.
In Hocus Pocus 2, the trio of characters is mentioned, but the actors themselves never appear. Upon seeing the Sanderson sisters enter his magic shop, Gilbert (the owner, played by Sam Richardson) proclaims that he’s been trying to revive the witches since he saw them on Halloween night in 1993.
Thora Birch, who portrayed Dani in the original film, recently spoke to Entertainment Tonight and revealed why she couldn’t appear in the second installment.
“There were three options we had for how to bring Dani back, all of which I was excited by,” she shared. But, “by the time they got around to filming, I was already on something else.”
Earlier in the year, Thora explained to the outlet that if she hadn’t had a scheduling conflict, she was “definitely going to be there on set with the girls.”
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Belissa Escobedo — who plays Izzy in the sequel — shared that in an earlier script, Thora was their teacher.
“I remember talking to Anne [Fletcher, Hocus Pocus 2 director] about it being a thing where she was our teacher, and we went to her for help,” she said.
As for Max (Omri Katz) and Allison (Vinessa Shaw), director Anne Fletcher confirmed to Entertainment Weekly in August that they aren’t returning, as it was “difficult” to fit them in the new storyline.
“We wanted to weave in all of the people that the fans loved, and when you sat back with all the ingredients and story, you’re like, how do we make this work?,” she said. “It was very difficult to try to have them be a part of it, because we did talk about it — painstakingly. You're trying to stay on track with story, even if they came in as a cameo. People would say, ‘They could be in the background!’ and I’m like, really? You’re going to put the leads of the first movie in the background and be satisfied? You’re not going to be satisfied, you’re going to be angry.”
But the original stars are looking forward to seeing the Sanderson sisters come back to life.
“I can’t wait to see what they do with it. I know they’re taking a completely different, fresh approach, so I’m excited,” Thora told Entertainment Tonight.
Hocus Pocus 2 is now streaming on Disney+.
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