Hocus Pocus (1993)

PG | 96 mins | Children's works, Comedy, Fantasy | 1993

Director:

Kenny Ortega

Cinematographer:

Hiro Narita

Editor:

Peter E. Berger

Production Designer:

William Sandell

Production Company:

Walt Disney Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Taylor Miller, a student at University of Texas at Austin, with Janet Staiger as academic advisor.

The end credits contain a written statement, in which producers thank the following organizations: The Massachusetts Film Commission; Cities of Salem and Marblehead. The actor who plays "Dave" is credited as Charles Rocket in a front title card, and as Charlie Rocket in the end titles.
       Actor/filmmaker siblings Penny and Garry Marshall appear in uncredited cameos as "The Devil" and his wife.
       According to an 11 Nov 1992 Var article, Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and Walt Disney Pictures president David Hoberman purchased David Kirschner’s script in 1985. Kirschner said Disney kept the film in active development until it was ready for production.
       According to a 7 Jul 1993 HR article, Buena Vista made its first foray into the digital era with Hocus Pocus after purchasing “two new computers and a proprietary software package” for its existing in-house effects unit. Through Buena Vista Visual Effects (BVVE), Disney became the second major studio with in-house digital effects capabilities behind Sony Studios’ Imageworks. Among the effects created with the new digital technology was a six-layer digital composite which combined live-action footage of a house, a miniature of its upper floors and roof exploding, and three puppet witches shot against a blue screen, flying out across a matte painting of a moon and clouds which were set into motion digitally. A 15 Jun 1993 HR article detailed additional digital effects created by ... More Less

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Taylor Miller, a student at University of Texas at Austin, with Janet Staiger as academic advisor.

The end credits contain a written statement, in which producers thank the following organizations: The Massachusetts Film Commission; Cities of Salem and Marblehead. The actor who plays "Dave" is credited as Charles Rocket in a front title card, and as Charlie Rocket in the end titles.
       Actor/filmmaker siblings Penny and Garry Marshall appear in uncredited cameos as "The Devil" and his wife.
       According to an 11 Nov 1992 Var article, Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg and Walt Disney Pictures president David Hoberman purchased David Kirschner’s script in 1985. Kirschner said Disney kept the film in active development until it was ready for production.
       According to a 7 Jul 1993 HR article, Buena Vista made its first foray into the digital era with Hocus Pocus after purchasing “two new computers and a proprietary software package” for its existing in-house effects unit. Through Buena Vista Visual Effects (BVVE), Disney became the second major studio with in-house digital effects capabilities behind Sony Studios’ Imageworks. Among the effects created with the new digital technology was a six-layer digital composite which combined live-action footage of a house, a miniature of its upper floors and roof exploding, and three puppet witches shot against a blue screen, flying out across a matte painting of a moon and clouds which were set into motion digitally. A 15 Jun 1993 HR article detailed additional digital effects created by the Rhythm & Hues company in Hollywood which created “Binx,” the talking cat. Rhythm & Hues achieved Binx by filming a real cat, digitally removing its head, and digitally cloning its fur for use in their 3D-model.
       According to a 3 Feb 1993 HR article, choreographer-turned-director Kenny Ortega hired Bill Sandell, the production designer from his first film, Newsies (1992, see entry), after Sandell had begged Disney to work on the film. Sandell built the set on Disney’s largest soundstage, which served “double duty” in the film as the location for the witch’s cottage and the cemetery. HR noted that the cemetery set was covered in six inches of dirt, and that real elm and birch trees were brought in from the East Coast. An Aug/Sep 1993 Theater Crafts International article reported that the production crew visited Salem, Massachusetts in the fall of 1992 to research “17th-century mortise-and-tenon style of construction.” According to the same article, many special effects had to be “rigged into the sets,” which boosted the art department’s budget over $2 million.
       Hocus Pocus opened fourth at the box office, to mostly unfavorable reviews, largely because of its emphasis on the younger characters. Janet Maslin wrote in NYT that the film had “flashes of visual stylishness but virtually no grip on its story, [changing] tone as casually as the actors don their masquerade costumes.” Duane Byrge of Box wrote that, although the three sisterly witches were “charming,” viewing the film was like, “participating in a rehashed, reconstituted barrage of dance steps that have hung around probably for longer than 300 years.” However, HR reviewed the film positively, calling it “fast on its feet, in large part because of the hoary aplomb of Midler, Parker, and Najimy.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 1993
Sec S, pp. 17-19.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1993
Sec S, p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 1993
p. 3, 15.
Los Angeles Times
16 Jul 1993
p. 1.
New York Times
16 Jul 1993
p. 16.
Theater Crafts International
Aug/Sep 1993.
---
Variety
11 Nov 1992.
---
Variety
26 Jul 1993
p. 29.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Kenny Ortega Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Co-exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op B
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl 2d asst cam
Addl 2d asst cam
Addl 2d asst cam
Loader
Chief lighting tech
Best boy elec
Lamp op
Lamp op
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Stills photog
Prod and distributed on
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dept coord
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Leadperson
On-set dresser
Prop master
Asst props
Set des
Set des
Const coord
Greens foreman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Men's cost
Women's cost
Set cost
MUSIC
Mus ed
Supv on-cam musicians
Mus scoring mixer
Orch
Orch contractor
Supv copyist
Score rec at
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Supv ADR ed
Supv ADR ed
Supv foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Spec sd eff
Voice casting
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
ADR mixer
Foley mixer
Foley walker
Foley walker
Post prod sd
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff prod
Digital supv
Anim supv
Opt supv
Visual eff coord
Digital scanning
Tech admin
Digital wire removal
Digital wire removal
Digital compositing
Digital eng
Digital eng
Digital eng
Digital eng
Digital eng
Pixar
Pixar
Eff anim
Eff anim
Eff anim
Rotoscope artist
Ink and paint
Ink and paint
Anim cam
Opt lineup
Opt lineup
Opt lineup
Opt cam
Opt cam
Opt cam
Vista Vision cam
VFX storyboard artist
VFX storyboard artist
VFX storyboard artist
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec makeup eff for "Billy Butcherson" des by
Spec makeup eff for "Billy Butcherson" des by
Alterian Studios, Inc., Spec makeup eff for "Billy
Alterian Studios, Inc., Spec makeup eff for "Billy
Alterian Studios, Inc., Spec makeup eff for "Billy
Alterian Studios, Inc., Spec makeup eff for "Billy
Alterian Studios, Inc., Spec makeup eff for "Billy
Alterian Studios, Inc., Spec makeup eff for "Billy
Alterian Studios, Inc., Spec makeup eff for "Billy
Title des
Titles and opticals
Spec visual eff prod by
Visual eff supv, Matte World
Visual eff supv, Matte World
Exec in charge of prod, Matte World
Matte artist, Matte World
Matte artist, Matte World
Motion control op, Matte World
Cam asst, Matte World
Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
Rhythm & Hues, Inc., Talking cat anim
MAKEUP
Key makeup artist
Ms. Midler's makeup
Makeup artist
Ms. Midler's old age makeup
Key hairstylist
Ms. Midler's hairstylist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Extras casting
Scr supv
Prod asst
Prod supv, 2d unit
Asst prod coord
Prod secy
Prod secy
Asst to Mr. Kirschner
Asst to Mr. Kirschner
Asst to Mr. Winter
Asst to Mr. Winter
Asst to Mr. Haft
Asst to Mr. Haft
Asst to Ms. Bruckheimer
Assoc to Mr. Ortega
Asst to Mr. Ortega
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Cast asst
Cast asst
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Studio teacher
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant/VFX
Payroll accountant
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Helicopter pilot
Wescam aerial services provided by
Animals supplied by
Head trainer
Trainer
Trainer
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
"I Put a Spell on You," produced and arranged by Marc Shaiman
"Sarah's Theme," music by James Horner, lyrics by Brock Walsh
"I Put a Spell on You," written by Jay Hawkins, performed by Bette Midler
+
SONGS
"I Put a Spell on You," produced and arranged by Marc Shaiman
"Sarah's Theme," music by James Horner, lyrics by Brock Walsh
"I Put a Spell on You," written by Jay Hawkins, performed by Bette Midler
"Witchcraft," written by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, performed by Joe Malone
"I Put a Spell on You," written by Jay Hawkins, performed by Joe Malone
"Sabre Dance," written by George Wilson, courtesy of Associated Production Music
"Chants and Incantations," conceived and written by Brock Walsh.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
1993
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 16 July 1993
New York opening: week of 16 July 1993
Production Date:
began 12 October 1992
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
23 July 1993
Copyright Number:
PA620156
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex® cameras by Panavision®; Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
32530
SYNOPSIS

In 1693, teenager Thackery Binx awakes to the sound of a hooded figure rushing past the window of his home in Salem, Massachusetts. Startled, Thackery realizes his sister Emily has gone missing. Outside, Thackery’s neighbor, Elijah, points to a plume of smoke rising from the nearby forest and warns Thackery that his sister has been lured by witches. Thackery chases after Emily through the woods and arrives at a cottage where he sees an old woman, Sarah, invite his sister inside with a bewitching voice. Thackery sneaks into the cottage to find three old witches, the Sanderson sisters, taking Emily captive. Winifred, known by her sisters as Winnie, leads the others, Mary and Sarah, as they mix a potion used to suck the life force from young children and restore their youth. When the sisters discover Thackery, Winnie casts a lightning bolt from her fingers to incapacitate him. Though the potion from their cauldron has spilled, Winnie, Sarah, and Mary manage to suck the life force from Emily. As Emily slumps over, lifeless, the sisters become more youthful. Thackery calls the witches “hags,” provoking Winnie to punish him with something worse than death. Using her spell book, Winnie transforms Thackery into a black cat who will live eternally with his guilt. Outside the cottage, angry townspeople arrive and drag the sisters out of their house. Before the sisters are hanged publicly, they perform a spell. Winnie announces to onlookers that they will return again, summoned by a virgin on Halloween night. Three hundred years later, teenager Max Dennison has just moved with his family from Los Angeles to Salem. When a high school teacher tells the story ... +


In 1693, teenager Thackery Binx awakes to the sound of a hooded figure rushing past the window of his home in Salem, Massachusetts. Startled, Thackery realizes his sister Emily has gone missing. Outside, Thackery’s neighbor, Elijah, points to a plume of smoke rising from the nearby forest and warns Thackery that his sister has been lured by witches. Thackery chases after Emily through the woods and arrives at a cottage where he sees an old woman, Sarah, invite his sister inside with a bewitching voice. Thackery sneaks into the cottage to find three old witches, the Sanderson sisters, taking Emily captive. Winifred, known by her sisters as Winnie, leads the others, Mary and Sarah, as they mix a potion used to suck the life force from young children and restore their youth. When the sisters discover Thackery, Winnie casts a lightning bolt from her fingers to incapacitate him. Though the potion from their cauldron has spilled, Winnie, Sarah, and Mary manage to suck the life force from Emily. As Emily slumps over, lifeless, the sisters become more youthful. Thackery calls the witches “hags,” provoking Winnie to punish him with something worse than death. Using her spell book, Winnie transforms Thackery into a black cat who will live eternally with his guilt. Outside the cottage, angry townspeople arrive and drag the sisters out of their house. Before the sisters are hanged publicly, they perform a spell. Winnie announces to onlookers that they will return again, summoned by a virgin on Halloween night. Three hundred years later, teenager Max Dennison has just moved with his family from Los Angeles to Salem. When a high school teacher tells the story of the Sanderson sisters to his class, Max dismisses it, expressing his disbelief in all things related to Halloween. Later, however, Max’s younger sister Dani insists that he take her out to trick or treat, as their parents are committed to a costume ball. Going house to house, Dani and Max happen upon a party hosted by the parents of Allison, Max’s high school crush. Inside, Allison compliments Dani’s witch costume, and the subject of the Sanderson sisters is rekindled. Allison, a believer, explains that the Sandersons’ cottage was converted to a museum that has since been shut down. Upon Max’s suggestion, the three go to the abandoned museum and break in. There, amongst cobwebs and dusty items, Allison tells the story of the black flame candle, which is said to bring the witches back from the dead if lit by a virgin on Halloween night. Max attempts to light the candle, but is stopped by Thackery Binx, the immortal black cat. Determined to impress Allison, he successfully lights the candle and the flame turns black. Electric bulbs explode, floorboards rumble, and a gust of wind blows through the cottage. Dani, Max, and Allison hide as the witches return. Mary uses her power of smell to find Dani, but, before the sisters can feed Dani their potion, Max jumps out and startles them. Winnie incapacitates him with a bolt of lightning, but Max manages to escape. Hoisting himself onto a ledge near the ceiling, Max trips the sprinkler system installed by the museum with his lighter and tells the witches that the water is a “burning rain of death.” As Max and the others run out of the cottage, Binx speaks to him. The talking cat instructs Max to steal the witches’ spell book and head to the graveyard, a hallowed ground where the witches cannot set foot. When the witches arrive at the graveyard, floating on their brooms, Winnie resurrects the body of Billy Butcherson, an old lover whose mouth has been sewn shut. Winnie orders Billy to run after Max, Dani and Allison. As the group runs through the sewer system to escape Billy, the Sanderson Sisters encounter a city bus. The driver believes the sisters are acting in character for Halloween when they behave as if they have never seen a bus and proceeds to flirt with them. Later, as Sarah sits on the driver’s lap and steers the bus, she unknowingly hits and kills Binx. The cat comes back to life in front of Dani, demonstrating his immortality. Max, Allison and Dani seek out the Dennisons at the town’s costume ball. Max tries to warn his father about the witches, but they soon arrive. Winnie sings a song, thereby casting a spell which causes the partygoers to dance until their death. Max, Allison and Dani run away. In an alley, Allison devises a plan to burn the witches alive in the high school’s art kiln. The group lures the witches into the school, and Allison fires the kiln once they are trapped inside. Believing the plan has worked, Allison accompanies Max and Dani to their home in order to rest. The witches, yet undead, regroup at their cottage, where Winnie laments that they will die by sunrise if she cannot brew the same potion they used on Emily to steal more life force. Winnie calls upon her spell book, which is with Max. The book hears Winnie and opens the eyeball on its cover, alerting the witches of its location by sending a beam into the sky. The witches, who have lost their brooms, fly to the Dennisons’ on a large brush, a mop, and a vacuum. There, they kidnap Dani and Binx, and steal back the spell book. Max and Allison arrive at the cottage just before the witches feed their potion to Dani. Turning the headlights of a car on bright outside their window, Max tricks the witches into believing that dawn has come. He rescues Dani and Binx, upsets the cauldron of potion, and escapes before the witches realize they were tricked. Winnie and her sisters fly back to the cemetery, where Winnie orders Billy to help her once again. Billy cuts the stitches on his mouth and speaks, revealing his hate for Winnie, who poisoned him to death. Billy switches sides to help Allison and Max protect Dani. Winnie knocks off Billy’s head, and swoops down to snatch Dani. Binx runs up a tree and pounces on Winnie, who drops the vial of potion she managed to scrape from the upset cauldron. Max catches the potion and drinks it, leaving Winnie no choice but to take him. She lifts Max off the ground and begins sucking his life force, but Max knocks her off the broom. Winnie crawls after Max, but, because she is on hallowed ground, she turns to stone. Dani thanks Max for saving her life. As the sun rises, the statue of Winnie explodes, followed by Mary and Sarah, who burst into dust in mid-air. Binx’s curse is lifted, and the boy’s ghost says goodbye to Dani as he and Emily are reunited in the afterlife. Elsewhere, the costume ball finally lets out after partygoers have danced all night under Winnie’s spell. Though the witches are gone, the spell book, back in their cottage, opens its eye once again.
+

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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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