HBO is about to flip the switch and let the cauldron bubble on a new Practical Magic series, and we couldn’t be more excited.
Everyone – or, at least, everyone awesome – remembers bewitching 90s film Practical Magic.
Now, at long last, we’re getting the sequel we always dreamed of… just not in the way we expected.
Starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock, the original film begins in the 1600s: Maria Owens has been sentenced to hang as a witch, but manages to liberate herself from her noose and escapes. Heavily-pregnant, though, and betrayed by her lover, Maria unleashes a curse upon herself and her family: any man they truly fall in love with will be doomed to die an untimely death.
Understandably, this causes major issues for modern-day witches, Sally (Bullock) and Gillian Owens (Kidman), whose father died because of the curse and whose mother dies soon after from a broken heart. They are sent to live with their aunts, Frances and Jet, who raise them and teach them the art of witchcraft – which causes them to be alienated and ostracised by the local townsfolk.
Eventually, Gillian moves away to travel the world, and Sally does her best to find the normality she craves. But, when Gillian’s vicious boyfriend, Jimmy Angelov (Goran Visnjic), dies unexpectedly, the Owens sisters are forced to give themselves a crash course in hard magic.
With policeman Gary Hallet (Aidan Quinn) grows suspicious, the girls struggle to resurrect Angelov – and unwittingly inject his corpse with an evil spirit that threatens to end their family line forever.
The film was a surprise cult hit – not least of all because of its badass feminist undertones (tell Frozen fans that this was the original ‘sister saves sister’ movie) – and is every bit as watchable today as it was all those years ago.
What many fans of Practical Magic will not know, though, is that it is actually based on Alice Hoffman’s bestselling book of the same name. Indeed, the author recently released much-anticipated prequel novel Rules of Magic, which is all about Frances and Jet’s childhoods – as well as their relationship with their brother, Vincent.
The official plot synopsis reads: “From the very beginning, their mother Susanna knew they were unique – Franny with her skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, who could commune with birds; Jet as shy as she is beautiful, who knows what others are thinking, and Vincent so dark and charismatic that he was surely built for trouble.
“Susanna needed to set some rules of magic: no walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles and certainly, absolutely, no books about magic… but the Owens siblings are desperate to uncover who they really are. Each heads down a life-altering course, filled with secrets and truths, devastation and joy, and magic and love. Despite the warning handed down through the family for centuries (‘know that for our family, love is a curse’), they will all strive to break the rules and find true love.”
If you haven’t read Rules of Magic already (and what kind of Practical Magic fan are you if you haven’t?), then you need to do so now.
Why? Because it’s now been confirmed that both Hoffman’s novels are getting the HBO treatment in the not-so-distant future.
That’s right: Variety has confirmed that HBO Max has ordered a pilot commitment for an hour-long drama titled Rules Of Magic, which will be based on both of Hoffman’s novels.
Just like the prequel, the new TV series will be set in 1960s New York City, and follow Franny, Jet and Vincent Owens as they do the best to come to terms with the ‘abnormalities’ that have kept them isolated. But the tumultuous times unearth the extraordinary discovery that they are, in fact, descendants of a bloodline of witches.
Somewhere along the way, the sisters will become the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic. Their brother, meanwhile, will leave an unexpected legacy for all who follow him.
Jessica Jones‘ Melissa Rosenberg is set to write the script and executive produce the series via Tall Girls Productions, with Dana Baratta also writing and EPing, and Denise Di Novi and Nina Tassler of PatMa Productions and writer Hoffman serving as executive producers. The project is coming from Warner Bros Television.
No word on the cast as yet, but it seems unlikely that Bullock or Kidman will reprise their roles anytime soon: the first series will, after all, be almost entirely focused on a time set long before their characters are even born.
Don’t be too disappointed, though: based on the bewitching TV shows that we’ve been graced with so far (think Sabrina and A Discovery of Witches), we have a feeling this HBO show is going to be an absolutely hit.
Flip the switch and let the cauldron bubble already!
Images: Warner Bros/Rex Features