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The much-anticipated sequel to Hocus Pocus will be without one of the original film's most memorable stars. Entertainment Weekly reports that Thora Birch, who played Dani Dennison in the original 1993 Halloween adventure, was invited back to reprise her role for the sequel, but declined due to scheduling conflicts.
According to EW's source, Birch was asked to play a "good supporting role" as a kind of legacy player in Hocus Pocus 2, which will hit Disney+ later this year. In the original conception of the story, an adult version of Dani -- who faced the Sanderson Sisters alongside her older brother, his crush, and talking cat Thackery Binx back in '93 -- would return to help stop the Sandersons from getting their revenge for their failed Halloween resurrection nearly 30 years ago. Birch's Dani would have teamed up with a new group of teenagers played by Whitney Peak, Lilia Buckingham, and Belissa Escobedo to halt the resurrection of the legendary witches once again.
Sadly, Birch reportedly couldn't make the timing work because of another genre franchise piece: Tim Burton's upcoming Addams Family series Wednesday on Netflix. Notably, Birch exited from work on that series back in December, but because Hocus Pocus 2 was by that time already speeding toward a Halloween 2022 release, there apparently just wasn't time for both.
But that doesn't mean Hocus Pocus 2 will be without its original's star power. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy have all returned to reprise their respective roles of Winnifred, Sarah, and Mary Sanderson, while Doug Jones has returned as the undead Billy Butcherson. New cast members will include Veep star Tony Hale, Werewolves Within star Sam Richardson, and Ted Lasso breakout Hannah Waddingham.
It's been a long road to making a sequel to the beloved Halloween classic happen in the first place. After years of rumblings that a follow-up movie might end up happening, back in 2019 Disney finally took steps forward by hiring a writer for the project with Workaholics' Jen D'Angelo. Back in 2020, Midler, Parker, and Najimy all donned their costumes again for a charity reunion ahead of officially returning for the sequel in the spring of 2021. Then, on last year's Disney+ Day in November, we got our first official look at what's coming, along with a confirmation that October of 2022 will be the time to stream it.
Sadly, somewhere in that process, the production lost Birch, but Hocus Pocus 2 still seems primed to be a spooky good time when it lands this fall.