With movie release schedules in a total mess, it’s only a matter of time before we see more high-profile releases that were intended for theaters sent to major streaming services instead. The latest such instance is Warner Bros. The Witches, which will be appearing earlier than expected on HBO Max, this Oct. 22, just in time for Halloween.
The Witches is a classic young adult novel by Roald Dahl, and like many of the author’s other works it threads surprisingly mature themes (and more violence than you’d expect) into a story that would seem to be for children. In this case, it’s about a young boy and his grandmother who most thwart a worldwide coalition of child-killing witches when they find themselves staying in the same luxurious hotel.
This version comes to us from longtime box office kingpin Robert Zemeckis, who is coming off a disappointment in the form of 2018’s Welcome to Marwen. It reimagines certain aspects of the story, setting the tale in 1960s Alabama rather than 1980s England, and making our protagonist a young black child (Jahzir Kadeem Bruno), given narration by none other than Chris Rock. His grandmother is played by Octavia Spencer, while Anne Hathaway takes on the role of the Grand High Witch that was played by Anjelica Huston in the 1990 adaptation of The Witches by Nicolas Roeg. Together, the young man and his grandmother must stop a plot that involves turning all the world’s children into mice in an effort to exterminate them.
Also appearing are Stanley Tucci, Kristin Chenoweth and Codie-Lei Eastwick. The film was written by Zemeckis, Kenya Barris and Guillermo del Toro, and also counts Alfonso Cuaron among its producers. Check out the first trailer below. The Witches lands on HBO Max on Oct. 22.