Witch Mountain (franchise)

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Witch Mountain
Witch Mountain - official franchise logo.jpg
Official franchise logo, as released in 2009.
Based onEscape to Witch Mountain
by Alexander Key
StarringVarious
(See details below)
Distributed byThe Walt Disney Company
Release date
1975–2009
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget>$50,000,000
(Cumulative of 5 films)
Box office>$106,387,141
(Cumulative of 5 films)[a]

The Witch Mountain franchise consists of American science fiction fantasy-action adventure films, produced by The Walt Disney Company.[1][2][3] Based on the 1968 novel, Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key, the films as a whole center around extraterrestrial children who must return to their home planet, while ensuing figures attempt to intercept the aliens before they can escape.

The franchise consists of both theatrical and made-for-television films. The original trilogy has an overarching plot-line that spans the installments, while the 1985 television adaptation, and the 2009 theatrical re-imagining have a range of differences in their respective releases.

The series of films was met with mixed critical and audience response, though the franchise as a whole has turned a profit for The Walt Disney Company.

Origin[edit]

Novels[edit]

The Walt Disney Company's Witch Mountain franchise, is based on the 1968 science fiction novel written by Alexander Key. The events of the story follow two teenage orphans named Tony and Tia, who have paranormal abilities. The pair, who have little recollection of their past, are placed into a juvenile detention home by social services. After being released to a man self-described to be their "uncle", they discover his nefarious plans in using them for personal gain. Over the events of the book, the two remember their true nature as extraterrestrial life who came to Earth, when their home-planet was being destroyed. The duo escape with the remainder of their people, who call themselves "Castaways".

A sequel novel titled Return from Witch Mountain was released in 1978 by the Walt Disney Studios, to coincide with the release of their feature film of the same title. Key penned the novelization, based on the screenplay by Malcolm Marmorstein. It was originally published in 1978 by the Westminster Press in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Development[edit]

The Walt Disney Company release a feature film adaptation in 1975, which was mostly faithful to the source material. The film was one of the studio's most successful live-action films at that time.[4] Following the positive response to the film, the franchise continued with later installments.

Films[edit]

Film U.S. release date Director Screenwriter(s) Story by Producer(s)
Escape to Witch Mountain March 21, 1975 (1975-03-21) John Hough Robert M. Young Ron Miller and Jerome Courtland
Return from Witch Mountain March 10, 1978 (1978-03-10) Malcolm Marmorstein
Beyond Witch Mountain February 20, 1982 (1982-02-20) Robert Day Robert Malcolm Young
and B.W. Sandefur & Hal Kanter
Robert Malcolm Young Jan Williams
Escape to Witch Mountain April 29, 1995 (1995-04-29) Peter Rader Robert Malcom Young & Peter Rader Robert Malcom Young Joan Van Horn
Race to Witch Mountain March 13, 2009 (2009-03-13) Andy Fickman Matt Lopez & Mark Bomback Matt Lopez Andrew Gunn

Theatrical[edit]

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)[edit]

Two teenage orphaned siblings, Tony and Tia Malone, secret possess psychic powers. When those abilities attract attention from a villainous billionaire named Aristotle Bolt, the pair find themselves on the run. Bolt kidnaps them with plans to exploit their powers for his personal financial gain. Tony and Tia escape his containment, and with the help of a bitter widower named Jason O'Day they avoid Bolt's nefarious plans, and discover their other worldly origins.[5]

Return from Witch Mountain (1978)[edit]

After previously escaping the greedy and scheming humans of Earth, Tony and Tia return for a vacation. While on their Earth-bound getaway, the pair attract the attention of another treacherous man. Doctor Gannon, and his henchwoman named Letha, see the pair's abilities as an avenue in attaining riches. The villainous duo kidnap Tony, and use his power to sway Tina. She follows and pursues them, with a plan to free her brother.[6]

Race to Witch Mountain (2009)[edit]

Though often referred to as a remake or reboot, the film was a legacy sequel.[7][8]

A pair of extraterrestrial teenagers named Sara and Seth who have paranormal abilities, who are in search of a way back to their home-planet, drag a Las Vegas taxi driver named Jack Bruno into their adventures. Before an invasion from other worlds comes to Earth, the teens must find the location of their spaceship which is buried within Witch Mountain. Bruno finds himself aiding the youth, while evading government operatives and an alien bounty hunter/assassin, who are fast on their trail.[9]

Television[edit]

During the early-'80s, a third film in the originally trilogy was release exclusively through television broadcast. The Walt Disney Company continued this trend through the remainder of the '80s and early-'90s, with a number of made-for-television remake films of classic Walt Disney Productions.[10] Produced and released as a part of The Magical World of Disney series, among them, was a television remake of Escape to Witch Mountain.[11][12]

Beyond Witch Mountain (1982)[edit]

When reports of a boy's inexplicable abilities arise, Tony and Tia return to Earth. Knowing that the young boy must be from their world, the pair are sent to find the child. In their task, they are joined by Jason O'Day, their old friend. Together they race to find the boy, before a familiar nemesis (Aristotle Bolt) does.[13]

Escape to Witch Mountain (1995)[edit]

Marketed as a remake of the original 1974 film, the story shares commonalities with the previous adaptation.

A pair of twin humanoid-alien babies are found near a mysterious mountain. Unintentionally separated, they grow in age unknowingly within the same town. Without knowledge of the other's existence, the pair eventually meet and learn that they both possess supernatural abilities. Upon discovering each other, a questionable local businessman decides to use the teenagers powers to make himself rich. On the run from these nefarious plans and with the support of other-worldly alliances, only the strange place known as Witch Mountain can save them.[14][15]

Original series chronological order[edit]

Main cast and characters[edit]

List indicator(s)

This section shows characters who will appear or have appeared in more than two films in the series.

  • An empty, dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film, or that the character's official presence has not yet been confirmed.
  •  Y indicates a younger version of the character.
Character Film
Escape to Witch Mountain Return from Witch Mountain Beyond Witch Mountain Escape to Witch Mountain Race to Witch Mountain
Tina "Tia" Malone Kim Richards
Kyle RichardsY
Kim Richards Tracey Gold   Kim Richards
Anthony "Tony" Malone Ike Eisenmann Andy Freeman   Ike Eisenmann
Jason O'Day Eddie Albert   Eddie Albert  
Uncle Bené Denver Pyle Noah Beery, Jr.  
Anna Bolt   Elisabeth Moss
Jennifer & Marissa BullockY
 
Danny Bolt   Erik von Detten
Nikki & Sammi AllenY
 
Waldo Fudd   Vincent Schiavelli  
Luthor   Brad Dourif  
Bruno    
Edward Bolt   Robert Vaughn  
Sara   AnnaSophia Robb
Seth   Alexander Ludwig
Jack Bruno   Dwayne Johnson
Dr. Alex Friedman   Carla Gugino
Henry Burke   Ciarán Hinds

Additional crew and production details[edit]

Film Crew/Detail
Composer Cinematographer Editor Production
companies
Distributing
company
Running time
Escape to Witch Mountain Johnny Mandel Frank V. Phillips Robert Stafford Walt Disney Productions Buena Vista Distribution Company 1hr 37mins
Return from Witch Mountain Lalo Schifrin Bob Bring 1hr 35mins
Beyond Witch Mountain George Duning Jack A. Whitman, Jr. Gordon D. Brenner Disney–ABC Domestic Television,
Columbia Broadcasting System
47mins
Escape to Witch Mountain Richard Marvin Russ T. Alsobrook Duane Hartzell Buena Vista Television,
Walt Disney Television
Disney–ABC Domestic Television,
American Broadcasting Company
1hr 27mins
Race to Witch Mountain Trevor Rabin Greg Gardiner David Rennie Walt Disney Pictures,
Gunn Films,
Sandman Studios
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures 1hr 38mins

Reception[edit]

Box office and financial performance[edit]

Film Box office gross Box office ranking Video
sales gross
Budget Worldwide
Total income
Ref.
North America Other territories Worldwide All time
North America
All time
worldwide
North America
Escape to Witch Mountain $20,000,000 N/A $20,000,000 information unavailable information unavailable $8,500,000 information unavailable $28,500,000 [16][17]
Return from Witch Mountain $6,393,000 N/A $6,393,000 information unavailable information unavailable $10,000,000 information unavailable $16,393,000 [18][19]
Beyond Witch Mountain N/A information unavailable N/A N/A N/A information unavailable information unavailable information unavailable
Escape to Witch Mountain N/A information unavailable N/A N/A N/A information unavailable information unavailable information unavailable
Race to Witch Mountain $67,172,594 $39,214,547 $106,387,141 #1,227 #2,091 $41,619,672 $50,000,000 $98,006,813 [20][21]

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Escape to Witch Mountain 76% (21 reviews)[22] 60 (7 reviews)[23]
Return from Witch Mountain 50% (10 reviews)[24] N/A
Beyond Witch Mountain N/A[25] N/A
Escape to Witch Mountain N/A N/A
Race to Witch Mountain 42% (153 reviews)[26] 52 (28 reviews)[27]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ These figures are based on the available numbers for the theatrical films. Though there are a total five movies, there is no financial information publicly available for the made-for-television films.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fibbs, Brandon. "Race to Witch Mountain". ChristianityToday.com.
  2. ^ May, Scott A. "Formulaic 'Witch Mountain' redo will have audiences racing for exit". Columbia Daily Tribune.
  3. ^ Thompson, Gary. "Back to Witch Mountain: Disney updates it with a fast-paced action flick". inquirer.com.
  4. ^ Cyborgs, Santa Claus and Satan: Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films Made For Television by Fraser A. Sherman, p. 64
  5. ^ Williams, Whitney (January 1, 1975). "Escape to Witch Mountain".
  6. ^ Pollock, Dale (January 1, 1978). "Return from Witch Mountain".
  7. ^ "Dwayne Johnson: The Sequel's Champion?". www.yahoo.com.
  8. ^ Weitzman, Elizabeth. "'Race to Witch Mountain' is a thoroughly modern remake". nydailynews.com.
  9. ^ Leydon, Joe (March 11, 2009). "Race to Witch Mountain".
  10. ^ "13 fascinating facts about 'The Wonderful World of Disney'". Me-TV Network.
  11. ^ "Preview '94 : A Feel for Family : ABC PINS ITS SATURDAY NIGHT VALUES ON WHOLESOME MOVIES". Los Angeles Times. September 11, 1994.
  12. ^ "ABC revives weekly Disney series". Deseret News. September 28, 1997.
  13. ^ "Beyond Witch Mountain (television)". D23.
  14. ^ Noble, Barnes &. "Race to Witch Mountain". Barnes & Noble.
  15. ^ "Escape to Witch Mountain - Movie Review". www.commonsensemedia.org. November 23, 2009.
  16. ^ "Escape to Witch Mountain". Box Office Mojo.
  17. ^ "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 44
  18. ^ "Return from Witch Mountain". Box Office Mojo.
  19. ^ "Return from Witch Mountain". Disney Movies List. December 14, 2017.
  20. ^ "Race to Witch Mountain". Box Office Mojo.
  21. ^ "Race to Witch Mountain (2009) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  22. ^ "Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  23. ^ "Escape to Witch Mountain". Metacritic.
  24. ^ "Return from Witch Mountain (1978)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  25. ^ "Beyond Witch Mountain (1982)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  26. ^ "Race to Witch Mountain (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  27. ^ "Race to Witch Mountain". Metacritic.