- “Halloweentown” first debuted in 1998, and it’s since had multiple sequels.
- In the film, Benny, the sassy skeleton taxi driver, was actually a robot.
- “Halloweentown” was supposed to have a much darker ending.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Even though it’s been over 20 years since the Disney Channel’s fourth original movie,“Halloweentown,”(1998) first aired, ’90s kids still look forward to watching the Cromwell kids get into some supernatural mischief once October rolls around.
And though you might consider yourself a wiz when it comes to “Halloweentown” trivia, there are some behind-the-scenes secrets not even the most loyal of fans know about the film.
To brush up on your facts, here are 12 things you probably didn’t know about the magic behind this cult-favourite movie.
The movie didn’t have a large budget.
The first instalment of the “Halloweentown” franchise was presented to the director Duwayne Dunham as a $US20 million to $US30 million project – but that turned into just $US4 million.
“I liked the story of the kids and their grandmother and the mother and the secret and all of that stuff,” Dunham said in an interview with MTV. “But it was like a $US20 to $US30 million movie when they presented it to me, and at that time, Disney Channel had just started production on their first movie, which was ‘Brink,’ and we were the second one.
“Our concept was great, but the scope was too much for us and our budget. So the trick was how do you keep the tone and the concept intact, and pare it down so we could afford to do this?”
Obviously, they made it work. The film was shot in a quick 24-day span, with actors doubling up costumes on the set to create the illusion of a busy town.
Benny, the sassy skeleton taxi driver, was actually a robot.
Benny the taxi driver wasn’t an actor dressed as a skeleton, nor was his character completely digitised.
During an interview with Baltimore Media Blog, Kimberly J. Brown, who played 13-year-old Marnie Cromwell, outed the man behind the curtain – or, I should say, the robot behind the skeleton – for what he truly was.
“One specific memory [I have from filming ‘Halloweentown’ is] of the character Benny,” Brown told the blog. “The actor dubbed his lines after filming, so we actually worked with a robot. I’ll always remember the ‘errr err’ sound it made.”
You can visit the town seen in “Halloweentown” in real life.
The original “Halloweentown” was filmed in the town square of St. Helens, Oregon, and every year since its release in 1998 the town celebrates All Hallows’ Eve by hosting the Spirit Of “Halloweentown” Festival from mid-September through October 31.
“They kick off the festival every year with an annual lighting ceremony,” Brown said of the festival in a YouTube video. “We say a spell from the movie, and the jack-o-lantern is lit. It’s lit you guys.”
The monthlong event also features activities like family-friendly haunted houses, photos with the original orange pumpkin from the film, a museum of peculiarities and oddities, pumpkin picking, a costume contest, and more.
‘Halloweentown’ is a book, but you won’t find it at major retailers.
Fans of the film might remember the “Halloweentown” picture book Grandma Aggie brought Marnie the night she found out she was the next teen witch.
In a video on her YouTube channel from July 2013, Brown said the book was made exclusively for the film, but, unfortunately, never made it onto shelves.
“That was a special book they did make for the movie,” Brown said. “They had an artist draw all the pictures in it, and they gave them a photograph of me before we started shooting the movie [so that they could draw] that picture of me on the broom, which I thought was really cool.”
The fall film was actually shot in the summer.
Fall might translate to pumpkin-spice lattes, cosy sweaters, and watching reruns of the entire “Halloween” franchise start to finish for the average ’90s kid, but this classic autumnal film was actually produced in the middle of July.
Dunham told MTV the actors would often walk around set with part of their costumes off because “it was the dead of summer” and so hot.
The actor who played Kal in “Halloweentown II” improvised his first spell.
Most of the spells you’ll hear throughout the movies were scripted, but the actor Daniel Kountz, who played the evil Kalabar’s son, Kal, had to come up with a spell on the spot during his first scene.
Kountz told MTV News that the script said, in plain ink, “Kal says spell and walks through the portal.” But he’d interpreted that to mean someone would fill in the blank when the time came.
When the director Mary Lambert asked whether he’d had his spell prepared just minutes before shooting, Kountz said he recited a line from a random German tune he’d remembered from his high-school choir.
“I just pulled that out of nowhere, and they ended up using [it in the movie], and I think it actually worked out pretty well,” Kountz told MTV.
Only two of the original actors were in all four movies.
Once a movie gets a sequel, then a midquel, and eventually a fourth instalment, it’s not uncommon for actors to phase out by the series’ end.
“Halloweentown High” shared a set with another classic DCOM.
If you were a fan of Disney’s “The Luck Of The Irish,” then you might have noticed a few setting similarities between Disney’s St. Patrick’s Day-inspired film and “Halloweentown High.”
According to MTV, both movies filmed scenes at the Juan Diego Catholic High School in Utah.
“Halloweentown” was supposed to have a much darker ending.
Obviously, “Halloweentown” is a family-friendly holiday film like “Casper Meets Wendy” as opposed to the holiday’s classic slasher films like “A Nightmare On Elm Street” or “Friday the 13th.”
But in an interview with Seventeen magazine, Brown said the movie originally had a much darker ending that was eventually rewritten to the warm-and-fuzzy ending fans know and love today.
“If I remember correctly, [the alternate ending] involved Marnie going into the middle of a forest to place the talisman instead of in the giant pumpkin,” Brown told Seventeen.
“But I do remember that there was a section of the forest she had to walk through, and as she did she got older and older – that was the dangerous part about her having to go into it to save the town.”
The crew actually had to make a mould of Brown’s head to create the masks of Marnie’s age transitions. Because the scene was never shot, they gifted the cement mould to the actress as a kind of keepsake once the film wrapped.
The actors behind Kal and Marnie are dating in real life.
Kal was the devilishly charming villain you probably loved to hate but also secretly loved. So if you were a super fan secretly shipping Kal and Marnie in real life, good news.
Daniel Kountz and Kimberly J. Brown made their relationship Instagram official on July 6, 2018, when Brown posted a sweet pic in honour of National Kissing Day.
The two smooched against a lamp post and “Halloweentown” fans around the world were swooning.
Aunt Aggie’s house is a bed and breakfast fans can stay at.
If festivals aren’t your scene, but you’d still like to experience a taste of “Halloweentown” in real life, the exterior of grandma Aggie’s house is actually a bed and breakfast overlooking St. Helens.
Marnie was recast in “Return to Halloweentown,” and fans were not happy about it.
Reports circulated for quite some time that Sara Paxton took over the role because of schedule issues with Brown, but the “Halloweentown” alum has been pretty vocal about the swap.
“Some people said they heard I was working on something, which was not the case at the time,” Brown said addressing the reports in a YouTube video. “I was available and ready to do it and had talked to them about possibly doing it. But Disney decided to go in a different direction and recast the role.”
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