‘The Witches’ will premiere on HBO Max on October 22 — here’s how to watch the new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic book

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The Witches

“The Witches” / Warner Bros

  • “The Witches,” starring Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer, will premiere on HBO Max on October 22.
  • This new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic 1983 novel was originally planned for theaters before the studio decided to make it a streaming release.
  • You’ll need an HBO Max subscription ($14.99 a month) to watch “The Witches,” which is about as much as it would have cost to see in theaters.
  • Current HBO Max members won’t have to pay any extra fees to watch the movie, and most HBO cable subscribers can get HBO Max at no extra cost.
  • For detailed impressions on HBO Max, check out our full HBO Max review here

A new film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book “The Witches” will premiere on HBO Max on October 22, just in time for Halloween. 

Academy Award winners Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer star in the film; Hathaway plays the Grand High Witch, leader of a wicked coven, while Spencer plays the high-energy grandmother of the film’s protagonist. “The Witches” is directed by Robert Zemeckis of “Forrest Gump” and “Back to the Future” fame, with Chris Rock serving as narrator.

This reimagining of “The Witches” is set in the American south during 1967, while Dahl’s novel was published in 1983 and set in England. Spencer’s character and her grandson (played by Jahzir Bruno) come across a witch conference at an Alabama hotel and eventually discover the witches’ plot to turn children into mice.

“The Witches” was originally planned for a theatrical release, but the coronavirus pandemic has led Warner Bros. to pursue streaming premieres for several of its films this year. Warner Bros. also released “Scoob!” to home audiences after cancelling a May theater release and made it available to HBO Max subscribers in June. “The Witches” will look to capitalize on Halloween excitement with the holiday just days away and much of the world still practicing social distancing.

How to watch ‘The Witches’ on HBO Max

To watch “The Witches” when it’s released on October 22, you’ll need an HBO Max subscription. The service costs $14.99 a month, and new members can receive a free seven-day trial.

HBO Max is an on-demand streaming service that combines HBO’s original series and library of films with a huge catalog of additional movies and shows from sources like DC Comics, Turner Classic Movies, and Adult Swim. 

HBO Max launched as a replacement for the HBO Now and HBO Go streaming services. If you already subscribe to HBO through your cable provider, there’s a good chance you can get HBO Max for free. You can see if your current subscription supports HBO Max here.

The HBO Max app is available on Android, iPhone, PlayStation, Xbox, Chromecast, PC, Mac, Samsung TVs, and Apple TV. The app isn’t available on Roku or Amazon Fire streaming devices yet.

Like all HBO Max content, “The Witches” will be limited to an HD resolution of 1080p; a spokesman for the service previously said that 4K streaming and HDR support will come to the app at a later date.

“The Witches” is exclusive to HBO Max in the US but will be released to other on-demand video services in the UK and Ireland on October 26. Viewers in those countries will be able to purchase the movie or rent it for 48 hours.

Where to watch more films inspired by Roald Dahl

Dahl’s books have impacted multiple generations and inspired a wide range of films and other media adaptations. Disney Plus is home to several Dahl adaptations, including “James and the Giant Peach,” “The BFG,” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” The most popular Dahl-inspired film, “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, ” is available to stream through Freeform, along with “Matilda.”

Jim Henson helped produce a British adaptation of “The Witches” in 1990; the film was a critical success but a commercial failure. You can watch the 1990 version of “The Witches” on Netflix now, but know that Dahl disagreed with the filmmakers’ decision to change the original ending of his novel for the screen. 

Sources told Variety that the 2020 version of “The Witches” will stay closer to the story of the book, even though it’s set during the American civil rights movement with Black protagonists. 

All of these films are also available to buy or rent through digital streaming retailers, like Vudu, FandangoNow, and more. 

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