Witchy 1990s Classic Practical Magic May Get a Prequel Series at HBO Max

Bullock, book, and candle.
Bullock, book, and candle.
Image: Warner Bros.

Is that the sound of midnight margaritas you hear? Or is that a recently-deceased (for the second time) evil ex-boyfriend creaking in the garden? It could be both: HBO Max has ordered a pilot for a potential series that would be a prequel to the dark and dreamy 1998 witch-family saga Practical Magic.


As Halloween movie aficionados well know, the original film—based on the Alice Hoffman novel—starred Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Dianne Wiest, Stockard Channing, Aidan Quinn, and a very young Evan Rachel Wood; it told the story of the Owens family, women whose magic powers meant they could cast all kinds of awesome spells, but were also held captive by a generations-long love curse. Its mix of sparkly coziness and offbeat humor—not to mention a surprisingly serious take on women helping women escape abusive relationships (filtered through a supernatural lens, of course)—has made it a bit of a cult classic.

As TV Line reports, the potential prequel series is called Rules of Magic and counts Melissa Rosenberg (who secured a big deal with Warner Bros. TV after Jessica Jones) among its executive producers and writers. It’s described as follows:

[An] “epic, generational family drama set in 1960s New York City” [in] which three siblings — Franny, Jet and Vincent Owens — wrestle with “abnormalities” that have kept them isolated. Descended from a bloodline of witches, the three will deal with grief, war, bigotry and dark magic, not to mention a centuries-old curse designed to keep them away from love. The two sisters, Franny and Jet, become the revered and sometimes feared aunts in the Alice Hoffman novel Practical Magic, while their beloved brother, Vincent, will leave an unexpected legacy.

Going by the movie, there would appear to be a fourth Owens sibling not mentioned here, the woman who ends up being the mother to Bullock and Kidman’s characters in the movie (seen only in flashbacks, it’s euphemistically implied that she died of a broken heart after her husband succumbs to that tragic curse). Though it seems wrong to consider any Practical Magic scenario that doesn’t revolve around that awesome, wedding-cake seaside house seen in the movie—a 1960s New York City setting does have an intriguing, Rosemary’s Baby kind of vibe, no?

We will obviously be lighting candles, blasting Stevie Nicks, eating brownies for breakfast, whatever is needed to send good vibes out for Rules of Magic, and expect all of you “Witch! Witch! You’re a bitch!” types to do the same.


HBO Max, also known as WarnerMedia’s subscription streaming service, is slated to launch in the spring of 2020.

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io9 News Editor, here since 2016. Previously SF Bay Guardian newspaper (RIP), SFSU (MA, Cinema Studies), member of the SF Bay Area Film Critics Circle, big fan of horror, metal, and verrry small dogs.


A Lantern of Hope

but were also held captive by a generations-long love curse.”

If you see a faded pentagram by the side of the road that says
Fifteen miles to the, love curse, love curse yeah
I’m headin’ down the ah-Salem highway
Lookin’ for the spell getaway
Headed for the spell getaway, spell getaway
I got me a ‘stick, it’s as big as a whale
And we’re headin’ on down to the love curse
I got me a Firebolt, it seats about twenty
So hurry up and bring your jukebox money

The love curse is a little old place where
We can spell together
Love curse baby
A love curse baby
Love curse, baby love curse
Love curse, baby love curse
Love curse, baby love curse
Love curse, baby love curse...