Hocus Pocus 2 Director Explains Why Max and Allison Aren't Returning

The Sanderson Sisters are back for revenge — but Max (Omri Katz), Dani (Thora Birch), and Allison (Vinessa Shaw) won't be there to stop them in Hocus Pocus 2. Nearly 30 years after Max lit the Black Flame Candle in the 1993 original, resurrecting 17th-century witches Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), the Sandersons return in present-day Salem. This time, it's up to a new generation of teens to defeat the witchy trio on Halloween: high-schoolers Becca (Gossip Girl's Whitney Peak), Cassie (Dirt's Lilia Buckingham), and Izzy (American Horror Stories' Belissa Escobedo).  

Following reports that Birch would not be returning as an adult Dani Dennison, EW.com has confirmed that Katz and Shaw won't be there to snuff out the Black Flame Candle a second time.  

"We wanted to weave in all of the people that the fans loved, and when you sat back with all the ingredients and story, you're like, how do we make this work?" director Anne Fletcher explained. "It was very difficult to try to have them be a part of it, because we did talk about it — painstakingly. You're trying to stay on track with story, even if they came in as a cameo."

Fletcher added: "People would say, 'They could be in the background!' and I'm like, really? You're going to put the leads of the first movie in the background and be satisfied? You're not going to be satisfied, you're going to be angry."

(Photo: Disney)

Jason Marsden, who voiced bewitched black cat Thackery Binx, also does not reprise his role — instead, there's a different feline friend in Hocus Pocus 2. Outside of the Sanderson Sisters, the zombie Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones) is the only returning character in the 29-years-later sequel (see the first look here).

New cast members include Tony Hale as Salem Mayor Jefry Traske, Sam Richardson as Olde Salem Magic Shoppe owner Gilbert, Hannah Waddingham as the mysterious Witch, and RuPaul's Drag Race queens Kahmora Hall, Ginger Minj, and Kornbread "The Snack" Jeté as drag versions of the Sanderson Sisters.

Disney describes Hocus Pocus 2: "It's been 29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters who were executed for practicing witchcraft, and they are looking for revenge. Now it is up to three high-school students to figure out how to stop the ravenous witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on Salem before midnight on All Hallow's Eve."

Hocus Pocus 2 is streaming September 30 on Disney+.