2020 has been a truly unpredictable year for the movie business, to say the least of it. The box office has been mostly a shadow of its former self since March, even after theaters reopened for Tenet. But people are still going to the movies right now and strange things are happening. To that point, Disney’s Hocus Pocus has just passed The Empire Strikes Back as the year’s biggest theatrical re-release, which further cements the Halloween favorite as a bonafide 90s classic.
Hocus Pocus has now earned just over $3 million in ten days since Disney re-released it in theaters. That puts it past The Empire Strikes Back, which is still widely considered to be the greatest Star Wars movie ever produced. The reissue of Episode V has earned $2.4 million this year so far on its 40th anniversary. Jurassic Park has also done well, taking in $1.4 million so far this year, largely driven by drive-in totals earned between March and August during the shutdown. Yet, it is 1993’s family-friendly movie about a trio of witches that has managed to top these two timeless, hugely-successful blockbusters.
Originally released in 1993, Hocus Pocus was directed by Kenny Ortega, it centers on a trio of witches, played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, who return to the town of Salem after 300 years to feed on the town’s children, given them new life. At the time of its release, it was widely panned by critics and was far from a success, earning shy of $40 million from a reported $28 million budget. Yet, over the years, largely thanks to regular rotation on cable and strong home video sales, it has become a true Halloween favorite.
The fact that the movie is now set to become one of the truly unlikely box office success stories of 2020 only further cements the fact that the original numbers do not tell the tale of Hocus Pocus. That’s good news for Disney as they are currently developing a sequel, which is in the works for the Disney+ streaming service. While details are largely being kept under wraps for the time being, the plan is to bring the original cast back. At one point, a different sequel, which would have been more of a reboot, was on the table, but those plans were ultimately scrapped.
Regal Cinemas, which is owned by Cineworld, recently shut its doors again after movies like Black Widow and No Time to Die were delayed to 2021. Much of that had to do with the underperformance of Tenet and The New Mutants. So for the rest of 2020, it will largely be drive-ins and re-releases driving the box office. There are a few big movies left on the calendar, such as Free Guy and Death on the Nile. But it seems Hocus Pocus has a whole lot of runway through the rest of October to run amuck on the competition. This news was previously reported by Forbes.