The Witches 2020 is an upcoming 2020 dark fantasy comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis, and written by Zemeckis, Kenya Barris, and Guillermo del Toro. It is based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl and is the second feature-length adaptation of the novel, following the 1990 film of the same name. The film stars Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, and Stanley Tucci. The Witches 2020 was originally scheduled for a theatrical release by Warner Bros. Pictures, but was later pulled from the release calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The film was later announced that it would be available to stream on HBO Max in the United States on October 22, 2020, with a theatrical release in select markets on October 28, 2020, by Warner Bros. Pictures.

The Witches 2020 Premise

Set in 1960s Alabama, an orphaned young boy stumbles across a conference of witches, while staying with his grandmother at a hotel, and gets transformed into a mouse by the Grand High Witch.

The Witches 2020 Cast

  • Anne Hathaway as The Grand High Witch, a powerful witch who is the leader of The Witches 2020.
  • Octavia Spencer as Grandma, Charlie’s grandmother who is an old enemy of the Grand High Witch.
  • Stanley Tucci as Mr. Stringer, a hotel manager.
  • Jahzir Kadeem Bruno as Charlie, a young boy who is turned into a mouse by the Grand High Witch.
    • Chris Rock as the voice of Adult Charlie, the narrator who tells the firsthand account of his experience as a child.
  • Kristin Chenoweth as the voice of Daisy, a mouse
  • Codie-Lei Eastick as Bruno Jenkins, an English boy who is turned into a mouse.
  • Charles Edwards as Mr. Jenkins, the father of Bruno.
  • Morgana Robinson as Mrs. Jenkins, the mother of Bruno.
  • Josette Simon as Zelda, a witch.
  • Eugenia Caruso as Consuella, a witch.
  • Ana-Maria Maskell as Esmerelda, a witch.
  • Orla O’Rourke as Saoirse, a witch.
  • Penny Lisle as Lana, a witch.
  • Simon Manyonda as Sous-Chef

The Witches 2020 Production

Development

The film is one of several adaptations of Norwegian-British novelist Roald Dahl’s 1983 novel of the same name, following the 1990 film adaptation and the 2008 opera by Norwegian Marcus Paus. Talks of a new adaptation of Dahl’s novel began in December 2008, when Guillermo del Toro expressed interest in making a stop motion film. No further developments on the potential project emerged until ten years later in June 2018, when Robert Zemeckis was hired to direct and write the script.

Del Toro would produce, alongside Zemeckis and Alfonso Cuarón, in addition to having a screenplay credit. The Witches 2020 takes place in Alabama during the 1960s, instead of the novel’s 1980s England and Norway, and the boy protagonist is African American, instead of Norwegian-British like the boy in the original novel and previous adaptations. Nevertheless the adaptation was described by Zemeckis as being closer to the original novel than 1990 adaptation, directed by Nicolas Roeg. Kenya Barris co-wrote the film.

Casting

In January 2019, Anne Hathaway was cast in the role of Grand High Witch. Octavia Spencer was cast in February, with newcomers Jahzir Bruno and Codie-Lei Eastick also joining. In May, Stanley Tucci and Chris Rock were added. In September 2020 it was revealed that Kristin Chenoweth was cast in the film.

Filming

Principal photography began on May 8, 2019, with filming locations including Alabama, Georgia and at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden in Hertfordshire, England and Virginia Water Lake in Surrey, England. It was expected to wrap on June 25. On June 19, a crew member was stabbed in the neck on the Warner Bros. Studios set in Leavesden.

Marketing

The film collaborated with a Roblox game named “Islands” for a limited time Halloween event. It features a boss battle with the Grand High Witch, one of the main antagonists of the film.

The Witches 2020 Music

In July 2019, it was announced that Zemeckis’s frequent collaborator, Alan Silvestri, will compose the film’s score.

The Witches 2020 Release

The film is scheduled to debut on October 22, 2020, on HBO Max in the United States. It was previously scheduled to be released on October 9 then pushed to October 16, 2020, before being pulled entirely from the schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Halloween! And just in time for this spooky holiday comes Roald Dahl’s The Witches 2020. Based on Dahl’s 1983 novel, this family-friendly movie is full of familiar faces and wacky witchy fun. The new trailer features a whole cast of comical new characters with kids turning into mice, bumbling hotel staff trying to keep up, and a whole coven of witches at a convention.

Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, The Polar Express, Back to the Future) stands at the director, producer, and co-writer’s helm ready to throw humor, warmth, and adventure into a bubbling cauldron for this reimagining of a timeless story. If that isn’t enough talent, add in Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Roma), Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water), and Kenya Barris (Black-ish, Girls Trip) for an unbeatable team of storytellers.

Roald Dahl’s The Witches 2020 spins a yarn about a young boy (Jahzir Bruno) who stumbles on a secret coven of witches led by the sly and menacing Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway). With the help of his tough-but-loving grandmother (Octavia Spencer), they must try to stop their evil plan to turn all the world’s children into mice. The film also stars Stanley Tucci as a hotel manager unwittingly hosting The Witches 2020’ convention, Kristin Chenoweth, and Chris Rock as the adult narration of Bruno’s young boy.

This adaptation of Witches will stand alongside an audio reading, a stage play, a radio dramatization, an opera, and a 1990 film with Anjelica Huston and Rowan Atkinson. The film will be released exclusively on HBO Max on October 22nd, just in time for Halloween. This marks one of the very first exclusive films on the new streaming site that launched in late May of this year.

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