The true story of how an actual witch cursed the set of Practical Magic.

Twenty-five years is a pretty long time.

It's younger than me. But in movie terms, it's... well, it's getting on. So the recent realisation that Practical Magic was released into the world that many years ago shook me to my core.

Because, friends, this was a movie I went to see in the cinema. With my high school friends. When I was approximately a child. 

It was 1998, iPhones wouldn't exist for another almost 10 years, and my Year 8 friends and I toddled off to the movies (after being dropped off by our parents, OFC) to see Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock in one of the best movies of its era. (I will die on this hill.)

And now me and all my Millennial mates have some very good news to celebrate: THE SEQUEL IS COMING.

Warner Bros shared the news on their Instagram, posting some iconic moments from the OG movie, with the caption, "It's official! Practical Magic 2 is in development and coming soon."

~Pardon me while I wet my pants with excitement.~


Practical Magic was the cooler, darker, older sister of Sabrina the Teenage Witch; she'd buy you cheap tequila and make you believe in true love.

It was Nicole and Sandy (first-name basis, obvs) at their finest, playing two sisters who came from a long line of powerful witches who were (gasp!) cursed never see any man they loved die. It was about family, sisterly love and drinking margaritas at midnight.

And with the Very Good News about the sequel, Practical Magic the gift that keeps on giving. But I also have... reservations? Concerns? Fears?

Because, you guys, this witchy film was cursed.

Like, proper cursed.

By an ACTUAL witch. 

Speaking to Vanity Fair to celebrate the film's 25-year anniversary in 2023, Practical Magic director Griffin Dunne explained that, during filming and the time surrounding the movie’s release, she didn’t want to speak about the hex that was placed on production. 


"At the time I would sort of deny it. I didn’t want the vibe," she said. 

"As the line from the movie that Aidan [Quinn, who played Gary Hallet] has [goes], 'I didn’t want to give the curse any strength.' Not that I believed in it. But if you believe in it, you’re giving it strength."

(Consider me officially intrigued.)

"I hired a witch consultant to get the details of the ceremony [in the film]. We got along great; she was very, very helpful. Sandy and Nicole kept asking about her, 'Oh, what did the witch say? What did the witch say about this?' before we started shooting."

(So far, so good...)

"She was paid very handsomely by Warner Brothers for her consulting. I thought it would be fun to bring her out to Los Angeles, put her in a nice hotel and meet Sandy and Nicole, who were dying to meet her. When the producer called, she was greatly offended, and wanted three gross points [from the film’s profit]. She wanted to publish a Practical Magic cookbook and said, 'You can’t buy me off with a hotel.'

(Okay, now things are getting juicy.)

"She left a curse in some sort of tongue on my voicemail – that was quite chilling, actually – and threatened to sue Warner Bros," Dunne continued. "So I took the little mini cassette [recording] and gave it to the legal department. They didn’t get halfway through it before they said, 'F**k this,' and wrote her a cheque."


Mildly… terrifying. If, you know, you believe in that sort of stuff. 

Which Dunne didn’t. Of course. 

But then some weird s**t started happening. Like the death of a staffer’s family member.

"I tried to keep this so contained, because I knew that they would just run with it, everyone.

"You know how show people are," Dunne told Vanity Fair

A crew member's father, who was quite elderly, died of a heart attack before shooting. It was very, very sad. But everybody went, 'Oh my God, that’s the witch. The witch killed the guy’s father,' which is just exactly the conversation I did not want to have on my set. So we kept the news quite contained. But Sandy and Nicole knew, and would talk about it endlessly."

Box office sales for the cursed filmed weren't great – while it opened at number-one with around $20.7 million in ticket sales, the film didn't manage to make enough to cover its $119 million production budget), and was widely panned by critics (the folks at Entertainment Weekly probably didn't realise just how spot on they were when they said the movie "seems to have had a hex put on it".)

But in the years since its release, Practical Magic has amassed a cult following – I can only assume thanks to the steps Dunne took after filming wrapped.

Because as much as the director definitelyabsolutelytotally did not believe in this stuff, it didn't stop her having a cheeky exorcism performed once the movie was made. 


You know, just in case. 

"I do think that there are certain powers that go into wishing ill will. So, just to cover my tracks, I did have a little bit of an exorcism. I hired someone to get that person off my radar," she previously told Vulture.

"It was a very simple, New Agey ceremony that was about as silly as the idea that someone would curse you over the phone. It was mostly chants and smoke and shit like that. I just did it to cover my bases."

Silly? Sounds sensible to me, but I'm the kind of girlie who smudges the corners of my house with burning sage, so there's that.

"If you're a person with any kind of spiritual sensibility or if you believe in a kind of higher power, you're open to beliefs in many things," added Dunne. "But with that open-mindedness comes risk. You don't get to pick and chose. If you open up the door to one thing, it's hard to deny other things.

"So while I didn’t give it too much power, I’m open-minded enough to at least spend a hundred bucks on an exorcism!"

Like I said. Sensible. Especially with a sequel on the way.

Feature image: Warner Brothers.

This story was originally published in October 2023, and has since been updated.

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