Warner Bros. Taps Ninja Thyberg to Direct a New Witches of Eastwick

It’s almost surprising this didn’t happen already. Screen Daily reports that Warner Bros. has hired Ninja Thyberg (Pleasure) to write and direct a new version of The Witches of Eastwick film. What’s not clear is whether this will be a remake of George Miller’s Witches of Eastwick (pictured above), or a new adaptation of John Updike’s novel on which the 1987 film was based.

Either way, it’s going to be tough to live up to the original film’s witches, played by the iconic trio of Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Susan Sarandon, with Jack Nicholson as the mysterious fellow whose arrival shakes up a quaint Rhode Island town.

Thyberg is the director of Pleasure, which follows a 19-year-old Swedish woman as she moves to Los Angeles, intending to work as a porn star. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year and has been picked up by A24 for US distribution—in both an R-rated version and an uncut unrated version—but it doesn’t have an American release date yet.

John Updike’s The Witches of Eastwick was originally published in 1984, and the novel’s summary reflects a certain ’80s sensibility:

Toward the end of the Vietnam era, in a snug little Rhode Island seacoast town, wonderful powers have descended upon Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie, bewitching divorcées with sudden access to all that is female, fecund, and mysterious. Alexandra, a sculptor, summons thunderstorms; Jane, a cellist, floats on the air; and Sukie, the local gossip columnist, turns milk into cream. Their happy little coven takes on new, malignant life when a dark and moneyed stranger, Darryl Van Horne, refurbishes the long-derelict Lenox mansion and invites them in to play. Thenceforth scandal flits through the darkening, crooked streets of Eastwick—and through the even darker fantasies of the town’s collective psyche.

Miller’s 1987 adaptation drew mostly positive reviews and earned a couple of Oscar nominations, including one for John Williams, for Best Score.

While the endless stream of remakes and reboots can be exhausting, this one has a particular intrigue; it’s not often a woman gets a chance at re-envisioning an iconic, female-centric story that was originally told by men. I haven’t seen The Witches of Eastwick in a very long time and will be the first to admit that my kneejerk “Oh no” reaction to this news was based on nostalgia as much as anything; sure, it’s hard to imagine a new cast stepping into Sarandon, Pfeiffer, and Cher’s shoes, but that doesn’t mean the perfect performers aren’t out there. Not to mention a new horny little devil.

There’s no word yet on cast, production timeline, or release date.

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