Although it’s now achieved a cult status among Halloween fans of a certain age—powered by some charismatic performances from its witchy leads, lingering adolescent crushes on the sarcastic cat man, and a thick, warm syrup of nostalgia—Disney’s Hocus Pocus was pretty much a disaster when it landed at the box office in 1993. (It didn’t help that the studio decided to roll such an overtly autumnal kids movie out in July.) Opening against Free Willy, the film landed at fourth place at the box office on its opening weekend, a performance that didn’t necessarily inspire joyful cries of “Amuck, amuck, amuck!”
It’s 2020, though, a.k.a. the year in which time has no meaning. And so it’s only somewhat surprising to learn today that Hocus Pocus might finally achieve the box office dominance it was denied back in its original run—and it only took the near-complete collapse of the U.S. film industry to do it. See, the Bette Midler vehicle is back in theaters right now, as part of the industry’s still-running attempts to find something, anything, that will lure people back into the tight, breath-sharing confines of their dark and drafty incubation boxes. And it worked, at least a little, because Hocus Pocus made $650,000 last night—not very much in the grand scheme of things, sure, but a smash hit on the relative scale of right now.
There are two prominent questions raised by this upset win for the Sanderson Sisters. First: Can they keep the momentum up, and beat Christopher Nolan’s Tenet for the overall weekend crown? (Variety says probably not, but we’re maintaining our faith in the power of Spooky Season to keep the dream alive.) Second: Did audiences at these screenings feel a little uncomfortable when Midler’s Winifred cast a spell on all those dumb dancing adults, forcing them to seek out communal entertainment and distraction to such an extent that it definitely would have killed them in the pursuit of some small measure of joy? Asking for a friend.