Ding-dong! The witch is… out for revenge?
The director of 1998 Halloween movie Practical Magic — which stars Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as magically-gifted sisters — revealed to Vulture in a new interview that an actual witch put a curse on the film during production.
Griffin Dunne told the outlet that when he began to adapt the script for the movie from Alice Hoffman’s book of the same name, he turned to a witch consultant for help.
“While I was developing it, I was never quite sure I had a real handle on the movie because, quite honestly, witches had no great interest to me,” Dunne said. “But I loved the book and I liked the setting and when I was working with this witch consultant, it occurred to me that I was making a movie about something I do know a lot about — strong women. I grew up in a house with a strong mother and my grandmother.”
Added Dunne, “So I had three generations of formidable women and when I got that into my head, I realized it’s not really about spells and spell books and all that — it’s about a legacy being passed from one generation to another. That helped me understand it, and that understanding came out of these conversations I had with this witch consultant.”
Calling the consultant an “intelligent person,” Dunne said he invited her to watch rehearsals for the movie in Los Angeles and to put her up in a nice hotel.
The witch, however, was not pleased. ” ‘You’re not going to buy me off with a hotel room. I want a percentage of the movie. I’m going to have my own Practical Magic cookbook,’ ” Dunne recalled her telling a producer, adding that though she was paid well, the woman wanted “an additional $250,000 dollars.”
Dunne said the producer told her no, which made the witch consultant snap: “She says, ‘I’m going to put a curse on you. I’m putting a curse on this movie, and I’m putting a curse on Griffin.’ ”
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The director received a similar voicemail from the woman, in which she threatened him, saying “There is a land of curses!” Calling the message “terrifying,” Dunne added that at one point, the consultant was speaking in tongues. She subsequently sued Warner Brothers.
“So I give the legal department the tape and they can’t listen to it all the way through, either,” recalled Dunne. “They’re so freaked out by it, they just pay the witch off. I don’t know how much, but enough to make her go away.”
Vulture reported that the movie was panned by critics, despite gaining a cult status in later years.
“Women, and girls, in particular, were all so moved by it, and it did very well at the box office,” argued Dunne. “But despite that, it had a weird reputation for being a failure. So I don’t give the curse any power, but at the same time, I did come to think that somehow a little stink was put on the movie. It took time for that stink to go away.”