Anne Hathaway is set to star in Robert Zemeckis' upcoming live-action adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved 1983 novel The Witches, but the actress has more than just a beloved children's book to contend with in terms of how audiences will be looking at the film. There's the cult-classic 1990 adaptation starring Anjelica Houston that will be in the mind of some fans, but if they're hoping for something similar, they may be surprised.
Speaking with Variety, Hathaway was asked what would be familiar between the two films and she was direct: just the story.
"I think the stories will be the only thing that is familiar," Hathaway said. "I think everything else is totally from the mind of Robert Zemeckis and I'm really excited."
The general story of The Witches focuses on a seven-year-old boy who stumbles into the world of witches, uncovering their secrets and hoping to expose them to the rest of the world before being caught. Zemeckis has previously stated that the film will be a more accurate reflection of the source material than the 1990 loose adaptation.
"We're going to set it in the Gothic South in the 1960s," Zemeckis shared with the French site Allocine [H/T The Playlist]. "It's an exciting way to put a sociological spin on this kind of witch story."
In contrast, the original film leaned more heavily into fantasy with the boy's grandmother, herself a former witch hunter, teaching him about the supernatural beings. The 1990 film didn't perform particularly well at the box office and even Dahl himself wasn't exactly a fan of the film, but in the years since its release it has gained something of a cult following. Houston's performance of the Grand High Witch in particular remains a standout, as does the special effects makeup and costuming of the witches true, monstrous selves that was nightmare fuel for any '90s kid who saw it.
In addition to Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, Octavia Spencer is set to play the grandmother in the story while the boy will be played by newcomer Jahzir Bruno. The film is set to open in theaters October 16, 2020.
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