the witches backlash

The Witches has found itself at the center of a controversy — not for its poor critical reception, but for some bad character design choices. The disability community has criticized The Witches for giving a negative depiction of limb differences, after the witches in Robert Zemeckis‘ film are shown to have three-fingered hands — a disfigurement notably similar to the real-life limb abnormality ectrodactyly, otherwise known as “split hand.” The Witches backlash led to Warner Bros. issuing an apology expressing deep “regret” over the depiction.

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What Happened to Robert Zemeckis

Nine days before Halloween 2020, with very little pomp or ceremony, the streaming service HBO Max released a new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel The Witches for the hopeful viewing pleasure of its subscribers. The film boasted Academy-Award winning talent both behind and in front of the camera. Playing the Grand High Witch, that nefarious sorceress who wants to turn the children of the world into mice, there was Anne Hathaway chewing the scenery up and down with a blonde wig and an accent located somewhere north of Transylvania. As a feisty grandmother, there was Octavia Spencer dishing out tough love with some CGI mice hanging around her jacket pocket. 

But you can be forgiven for missing out on The Witches. This film, like so many others in 2020, was originally intended to be released theatrically before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and upended the plans of so many mice and men. Instead, at the beginning of October, HBO Max announced the arrival of The Witches to its streaming shores and then, poof, there it was. Watching The Witches is a traumatic experience. For the 1990 version directed by Nicolas Roeg, it’s traumatic because the film’s special effects, camera tricks, and Anjelica Huston performance scarred so many children. For this version, it’s traumatic because the film is…well, pretty terrible. It’s worth noting here is that the remake came from a pretty impressive source behind the camera, making the film’s poor quality all the more frustrating: Oscar-winning writer/director Robert Zemeckis.

It’s a song you’ve heard before, though, with Zemeckis: a filmmaker so focused on the perceived possibilities of special-effects technology that he misses the CGI forest for the character-driven trees. Zemeckis’ career is defined by his adoration of technological breakthroughs, but it often has come at the expense of good filmmaking. Here’s the rub: it all started with what is arguably the best film he’s ever made, and arguably one of the most important and influential films of the last 50 years: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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The Witches video

What do you get when you take three of Hollywood’s most creative minds – Robert Zemeckis, Guillermo del Toro, and Kenya Barris – and set them loose on an adaptation of a Roald Dahl novel?

Answer: The Witches, Zemeckis’s upcoming take on the story of a boy who discovers a conference of witches staying at a hotel and is subsequently transformed into a mouse. The movie unveiled its first trailer earlier this month along with the surprising news that it will be debuting directly on HBO Max, and now stars Anne Hathaway and Stanley Tucci are here with a new video pointing out exactly how you can spot a witch in this version of the story. Read More »

the witches hbo max

Robert Zemeckis‘ new adaptation of The Witches, based on the beloved 1983 supernatural children’s novel by Roald Dahl, is skipping theaters and heading straight to HBO Max. Originally set to open in theaters on October 9, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic pushed Warner Bros. to take the film off the release calendar. But now the studio is taking a page from Disney’s book and dropping it exclusively on its WarnerMedia streaming service this October — just in time for spooky season. Watch The Witches trailer below.

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the witches remake cast octavia spencer

Octavia Spencer is the latest to join The Witches remake cast. Spencer will play the grandmother of a boy who runs afoul of witches, lead by the Grand High Witch herself (played by Anne Hathaway). Robert Zemeckis is directing the film, adapted from Roald Dahl’s children’s book, which was previously adapted into a movie by director Nicolas Roeg.

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Matt Reeves The Batman Release Date

After today’s updates about Matt Reeves‘ gestating new Batman movie, Warner Bros. has staked out a 2021 release date for the sequel. Even bigger news is that Ben Affleck will not be returning as The Caped Crusader, and the movie will instead focus on a younger Bruce Wayne.

That’s not the only Warner Bros. Pictures release date news, because the studio has also set the Suicide Squad sequel for release in 2021, as well as a DC Super Pets movie. And outside of the comic book realm, The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep has been moved up to release in the fall of 2019 instead of early 2020. Read More »

the witches remake cast

Anne Hathaway is joining The Witches remake cast as the Grand High Witch herself. Robert Zemeckis is helming the new take on the Roald Dahl children’s book, which was previously adapted into a disgusting (in a good way) movie from director Nicolas Roeg. Zemeckis’ film will allegedly take the story from the UK and set it in the American South.

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the witches remake

Robert Zemeckis will a helm a remake of The Witches, adapted from the book by Roald Dahl. Dahl’s book was previously turned into a film filled with creepy puppets, scary make-up effects, and goo, courtesy of director Nicolas Roeg. Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron will produce this new take on the story.  Read More »