Warner Bros. is giving moviegoers a Halloween surprise by pivoting the upcoming release of Robert Zemeckis’ “The Witches” to its streaming service HBO Max. “The Witches” will launch October 22 via HBO Max in the U.S., followed by an international theatrical rollout starting October 28. Warner Bros. originally intended to open “The Witches” in theaters on October 9 before the pandemic forced the studio to take the film off the release calendar. Now “The Witches” is back and ready to stream just ahead of Halloween.
Zemeckis’ “The Witches” is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1983 novel of the same name. Newcomer Jahzir Kadeem Bruno stars as a young boy who moves in with his grandmother (Octavia Spencer) in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis. The year is 1967, and the boy and his grandmother find themselves in an unexpected battle against a coven of glamorous witches (led by Anne Hathaway’s Grand High Witch) who seek to turn the town’s children into mice. The supporting cast includes Stanley Tucci, Kristin Chenoweth, and the voice of Chris Rock as the film’s narrator.
Warner Bros. last brought “The Witches” to the big screen in 1990 with an adaptation directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring Anjelica Houston in the role now being played by Hathaway. Zemeckis’ new spin on the material is backed by some heavyweight talent, including producers Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón. The film’s script is credited to Zemeckis, del Toro, and “Blackish” creator Kenya Barris. Del Toro had originally intended to direct a stop-motion version of “The Witches” for Warner Bros. before the project evolved into a live-action project with Zemeckis directing and del Toro producing.
For Zemeckis, “The Witches” aims to be a rebound after the critical and commercial failure of his last outing, “Welcome to Marwen.” The director’s other recent credits include “Allied,” “The Walk,” and “Flight.” Considering the plot of “The Witches” involves children turning into mice, the material allows the director to once again get imaginative in his use of visual effects.
“The Witches” premieres exclusively in the U.S. on HBO Max on October 22. Watch the official trailer in the video below.