Robert Zemeckis is having an interesting year. He was the subject of the best cinematic burn in recent memory (at least since Alex Gibney fired shots at Errol Morris during The Inventor) in Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and now his new film, an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story The Witches, is going to actually be hitting screens this fall. Yes, that’s right: The film, which originally was supposed to come out in theaters this month before Warner Bros. took it off their schedule following the COVID-19 craziness, will actually hit their new streaming service HBO Max later on in October. We’re wondering why anyone would remake a perfectly fantastic Nicolas Roeg film, all things considered, but hey, Zemeckis can get shit greenlit (unless it’s a CGI remake/adaptation of Yellow Submarine). And boy, based on the trailer for it that Warner Bros. dropped on Friday, we’ve got a pretty good idea why. It’s not Anne Hathaway’s fault, though. She’s having a ball here.
Here’s a synopsis (and, funnily enough, Kenya Barris of Black-ish fame and fucking Guillermo Del Toro co-wrote the script alongside Zemeckis):
“Reimagining [Roald] Dahl’s beloved story for a modern audience, [Robert] Zemeckis’s visually innovative film tells the darkly humorous and heartwarming tale of a young orphaned boy ([Jahzir Kadeem] Bruno) who, in late 1967, goes to live with his loving Grandma (Octavia Spencer) in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis. As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks our young hero away to an opulent seaside resort. Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world’s Grand High Witch (Hathaway) has gathered her fellow cronies from around the globe — undercover — to carry out her nefarious plans.”
The Witches will bypass theaters and arrive on HBO Max on October 22, which is a poor omen for it. Either Warner Bros. couldn’t find room for it in their schedule (give how packed it’s going to be in December with Duneand Wonder Woman 1984, it makes sense that there wouldn’t be a spot for it) or it’s really, really bad. And we’re guessing, at least based on Welcome to Marwen, it’s the latter.