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Robert Zemeckis' remake of The Witches is skipping theaters for an exclusive streaming rollout on HBO Max later this month, the platform announced today. We also got the first, mouse-filled trailer for the movie.
Based on the 1983 fantasy book by Roald Dahl, the film centers around a young boy (played by newcomer Jahzir Kadeem Bruno) who stumbles upon a conference of child-hating witches (led by Anne Hathaway's Grand High Witch) and is transformed into a mouse for his discovery.
Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci, Chris Rock, Kristin Chenoweth, and Codie-Lei Eastick co-star in the new adaptation, which takes place in 1960s Alabama. "We’re going to set it in the Gothic South in the 1960s. It’s an exciting way to put a sociological spin on this kind of witch story,” Zemeckis said last summer. The celebrated filmmaker also serves as a producer alongside del Toro, Jack Rapke, Alfonso Cuarón, and Luke Kelly.
In true Everybody Hates Chris fashion, Rock does voiceover as the older version of his younger self. Spencer takes up the role of the boy's loving grandmother, while Tucci portrays Mr. Stringer, the mustachioed concierge of the hotel where the witches congregate. Eastick plays one of the three kids who get turned into mice. Chenoweth's character is unknown at this time. Zemeckis (Back to the Future) co-wrote the screenplay with Kenya Barris (Coming 2 America) and Guillermo del Toro (Nightmare Alley).
Check out the trailer below:
"This film, with its stellar cast, is outstanding,” Casey Bloys, Chief Content Officer for HBO and HBO Max, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to be able to use our platform to deliver timely, relevant and engaging new content during this time when the theatrical experience is not available to everyone."
"The Witches is a wonderful reimagining of Roald Dahl’s classic tale that combines world-class filmmaking with fantastic performances. It’s fun for the whole family and ideal for this time of year," added Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.
Jacqueline Levine, Marianne Jenkins, Michael Siegel, Gideon Simeloff, and Cate Adams serve as executive producers.
Here's the poster:
The novel was previously adapted in 1990 by director Nicolas Roeg (The Man Who Fell to Earth) and starred Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch. While the film was well received by critics — it currently holds a 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) — the release was a box-office bomb, making just $10.3 million in total.
The Witches flies onto HBO Max Thursday, Oct. 22. Get your cauldron of excitement bubblin' with some first-look production stills in the gallery below ...