Eye of newt & toe of frog in hand, Ralph Winter conjures up "Hocus Pocus."
Whenever you make a movie, you end up making three movies. There's the movie you plan to make, there's the movie you're making and there's the movie you've made."
Ralph Winter knows whereof he speaks; as one of the producers of four consecutive Star Trek films, including the critically drubbed Trek V: The Final Frontier ("I thought the reaction was a little vicious," he confesses), and now the executive producer of Walt Disney Pictures' Hocus Pocus, he has been making movies for more than a decade.
While on location in Puerto Rico for his last Disney outing, the sea-faring comedy Captain Ron, he got word that Hocus Pocus, a script kicking around at the studio for several years, was finally a go. Even better than knowing he would be executive-producing the project was the news that studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg had managed to snare a trio of high-powered actresses — Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker — to topline the summer comedy-fantasy.
Midler, Najimy and Parker play three 17th-century witches all conjured up one night in modern-day Salem, Massachusetts. Seems they were hanged 300 years earlier for practicing their evil sorcery, and vowed to return one day to gobble up all the town's children. And what better night to carry out their plan of revenge than All Hallow's Eve?
Lest anyone think that Disney is about to produce its first NC-17 feature, Winter cautions that producer David Kirschner conceived the Hocus Pocus storyline as a yarn to entertain his young daughter.
"You have to look at this movie as a fantasy," Winter says, "because if you were serious about it, it would be [the plotline for] a Movie of the Week about child abuse. It's actually more like Hansel and Gretel, from Grimms' Fairy Tales, where they bake children in an oven."