HomeMoviesCouch Potato – It’s Time to Revisit Halloweentown

Couch Potato – It’s Time to Revisit Halloweentown

While they may have never gotten as much attention as their cartoon counterparts at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, the Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOMs) of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s were beloved by many millennials at the time and continue to elicit nostalgia. Among those DCOMs, few elicit as much love as the original Halloweentown. First airing in October 1998, Halloweentown was one of the earliest released DCOMs and was so popular that it spawned three sequels.

However, 2006’s Return to Halloweentown marked a disappointing end to the franchise; though the movie drew in 7.5 million viewers (making it the most-watched program on basic cable the day of its premiere), the movie drew in significantly more negative reactions that the first three movies in the series. As a result, the franchise has remained largely dormant since then (outside of three short films and a book). 

But with Hocus Pocus 2’s premiere on Disney+ this September, the time to resurrect another beloved Halloween franchise may have finally come. To avoid the mistakes of the last installment in the franchise, Disney needs to remember the elements that made the first three movies so popular and what creative decisions led them astray. If Disney does transport audiences back to Halloweentown once again, these ingredients will be necessary to concoct a successful witch’s brew.

Justice for Marnie

Of the many problems with Return to Halloweentown, none was bigger than the decision to recast the series protagonist, Marnie Piper. After playing the character for the first three films, Kimberly J. Brown deserved an opportunity to cast one last spell as Marnie; instead, the role was given to Sara Paxton. To be fair, Paxton gives a serviceable performance and should not be faulted for taking the role. But to exclude Brown from the final chapter of this beloved franchise, even though she was reportedly available, was a truly baffling move that immediately drew the ire of fans. 

If Disney decides to return to this series for a fifth movie, bringing back Brown as Marnie is a must. The move would undoubtedly serve as (black) catnip for nostalgic millennials, and Brown’s return would be seen as an act of goodwill toward the fanbase. With Brown back in the role, a fifth movie could explore a storyline set-up throughout the series: Marnie becoming the leader of the Cromwell clan. No longer an adolescent struggling to master her powers and figure out where she belongs, Marnie would have the chance to pick up her grandmother’s mantle and mentor a new generation of witches and warlocks as a fully realized sorceress. 

Bring Back Kal and Luke

Disney should also welcome back two actors/characters not seen since Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge: Kal (Daniel Kountz) and Luke (Phillip Van Dyke). After playing a fairly significant role in the first two movies, Luke’s absence in the final two movies was sorely felt. While he wasn’t necessarily a comedic powerhouse and didn’t have any magic powers to speak of, Luke’s dynamic with Marnie was a highlight of Kalabar’s Revenge. Luke also has one of the most defined character arcs of the series, going from enemy to ally to a possible love interest. Even though the former actor who played Luke, Phillip Van Dyke, doesn’t have any film or television credits since 2003, he has expressed interest in returning to the role if invited back for another movie. 

Bringing back Kal, the villain of the second film, would also be a no-brainer. Though he was defeated at the end of Kalabar’s Revenge, the movie clearly suggests that Kal will return to battle the Cromwell family again. And yet, we never did get a rematch between Kal and Marnie. Kal would thus be the obvious choice for the adversary of a new movie. And there’s reason to think Daniel Kountz would be open to the idea; after all, he and co-star Kimberley J. Brown got engaged earlier this year and have not been shy about showing their appreciation of the franchise that brought them together. 

Pay Tribute to Debbie Reynolds

Of course, there would be no Halloweentown without the incredible talent of Debbie Reynolds. While she may be best known for her role in Singin’ in the Rain, Reynolds delivered iconic performances as Aggie Cromwell. Reynolds perfectly captured the caring yet mischievous energy many of us love about our own grandmothers. If another movie were to be made, recasting Aggie would be utterly out of the question. When Reynolds tragically died in 2016 shortly after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, the role of Aggie died with her.

If another Halloweentown movie is made, the film should pay tribute to Debbie Reynolds and explore how the Cromwell family survives without the guidance of their matriarch. Incorporating Aggie’s death into the plot of the movie would provide an opportunity to truly pass the torch to Marnie and deliver an emotional sendoff for a beloved actress. Even if Reynolds is no longer here, one final Halloweentown movie could serve as a beautiful celebration of her life and career. 

Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky
Josh Sarnecky is one of Pop Break's staff writers and covers Voltron: Legendary Defender, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things. His brother, Aaron, also writes for the website, but Josh is the family’s reigning Trivial Pursuit: Star Wars champion.

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