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The Witches (also known as Roald Dahl's The Witches) is a 2020 dark fantasy comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis, Kenya Barris, and Guillermo del Toro, narrated by Chris Rock, and starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, and Stanley Tucci. 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 Witches 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 international markets beginning on October 28, 2020. It received mixed reviews from critics.

Plot

Premise

Set in 1968 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 when he discovers her plan to turn all children into vermin. He and Agatha, with the help of two other children turned into mice named Bruno and Mary, must foil the witches' scheme and kill the Grand High Witch.

Synopsis

In 1968 Alabama, an orphaned young boy named Hero Boy goes to live with his grandmother. Slowly, Hero Boy gets cheered up, following the death of his parents, with his grandmother buying him a pet mouse, whom he names Daisy. One day, they go to a supermarket and Hero Boy goes to buy a box of nails to train Daisy and to build a house for her as well. As he's getting the nails, he meets a strange lady who offers him a piece of candy. As she offers him a piece of candy, a snake crawls out from her clothes and starts to inch closer to Hero. But his grandmother calls him, causing the witch to disappear. Back at home, Hero tells his grandmother about the encounter. The grandmother tells Hero Boy that witches are, in fact, real, recalling the story of her best friend, Alice, who took candy from a witch and was turned into a chicken. The grandmother says that witches never leave once they find a child. Frantically, Hero Boy and the grandmother travel to a hotel and decides to remain there for a while. During the car ride there, the grandmother explains that witches have raspy voices, deformed feet without toes, clawed hands, wide mouths and nostrils, and wear wigs.

The next day, the grandmother tells Hero Boy to go out to have fun. Hero Boy takes Daisy and a rope to go get some training done at a grand hall. As he walks to the grand hall, he meets Bruno, a chubby kid who loves chocolate, but then gets pulled away by his mother. Hero Boy goes into the grand hall by himself. As he's getting ready to train Daisy, the Grand High Witch and the rest of the witches all go into the grand hall. Hero Boy hides under the stage. He watches the witches take their gloves, high heels, and wigs off. The Grand High Witch yells at the witches about how come there are still so many children left in the world. She tells them of her grand plan: Go to her hotel room to get a Mouse Maker Potion, set up a candy shop, and give children candy laced with that potion, to turn every child into a mouse. Just when she's done explaining her plan, Bruno knocks and is let in by the witches, who have put back their disguises. Bruno says that he was called here by the Grand High Witch who promised to give him six bars of chocolate. He then transforms into a mouse because of the chocolate bar laced with potion previously given to him by the Grand High Witch. He crawls into the vent and finds Hero Boy. The Grand High Witch finds him and turns him into a mouse too. Daisy, who reveals that she was once a kid, helps them escape.

They make their way back to the hotel room where Hero Boy and his grandmother are staying. They tell the grandmother of the witches' plan. They learn that the Grand High Witch is staying in the hotel room below them. They devise a plan to get a bottle of the potion so that the grandmother can devise a cure to turn them back into children. The plan is successful, but the grandmother can't create a cure. So instead, they make another plan where Hero Boy goes and puts a bottle of the potion into a broth of pea soup, which will be given to the witches during their dinner. All the witches drink the soup, but just as the Grand High Witch is about to, she sees the grandmother and makes her way towards her. She tells her that she recognizes her as the one who got away. As they are conversing, Hero Boy, Bruno, and Daisy steal the Grand High Witch's room key. Just then, the witches all begin turning into rats, and chaos ensues.

The grandmother and the mice leave quietly and go to the Grand High Witch's room. The grandmother puts all the potions into her bag to destroy them. But the Grand High Witch finds her and is about to kill her when the mice create a plan which causes her to be turned into a rat after she swallows a potion. They trap her in a cup and place books on top of it, preventing her from escaping. Before they leave the room, the grandmother takes money from the Grand High Witch's suitcase and releases her cat from the cage. As they close the door, the Grand High Witch's scream can be heard as her own cat attacks and kills her. The grandmother tries to return Bruno and explain the situation to his parents, but the mother and father freak out and run away. The grandmother, Hero Boy, Daisy, and Bruno all go home together and become a family.

Cast

  • Anne Hathaway as Grand High Witch
  • Octavia Spencer as Grandma
  • Stanley Tucci as Mr. Stringer
  • Jahzir Kadeem Bruno as the Hero Boy
    • Chris Rock as the voice of the Older Hero
  • Codie-Lei Eastick as Bruno Jenkins
  • Kristin Chenoweth as the voice of Daisy
  • Brian Bovell as Reginald
  • Charles Edwards as Mr. Jenkins
  • Morgana Robinson as Mrs. Jenkins
  • Josette Simon as Zelda
  • Eugenia Caruso as Consuella
  • Ana-Maria Maskell as Esmerelda
  • Orla O'Rourke as Saoirse
  • Penny Lisle as Lana
  • Simon Manyonda as Sous-Chef

Production

Development

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 film 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.

Music

In July 2019, it was announced that Zemeckis's frequent collaborator, Alan Silvestri, would compose the film's score. The soundtrack was released on October 23, 2020.

Release

Streaming

The film was released on October 22, 2020, on HBO Max in the United States.

Theatrical

Beginning on October 28, 2020, the film will be released theatrically by Warner Bros. Pictures in international markets that don't have HBO Max.

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.

Gallery

Trivia

Differences from the novel

Differences from the 1990 film

  • The orphaned boy (credited as the "Hero Boy") and his grandmother remain nameless in this film, while they were given the surname "Eveshim" with the boy's name being given "Luke" and the grandmother's name being given "Helga" in the 1990 film.
  • The hero boy and his grandmother are African Americans instead of white Americans.
  • The hero boy retains his mouse form at the end of this film, while Luke was transformed back into a human at the end of the 1990 film.

Reception

References

External links

Wikipedia
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The article or pieces of the original article was at The Witches (2020 film). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Warner Bros. Entertainment Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.


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Media
The Witches | The Witches (2020 film)
Characters
The Grand High Witch | Helga Eveshim | Luke Eveshim | Nicola Cuttle | Lois Leffour | Woman in Black | Miss Irvine
See also
Warner Bros. | Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory | Roald Dahl | Charlie and the Chocolate Factory | Nicolas Roeg


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