15 Spooky Secrets About the Halloweentown Franchise Revealed

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“Halloween is cool.” 

Twenty-five years ago, Halloweentown debuted on Disney Channel, making it one of the network’s first original movies. And it quickly became an October tradition for legions of fans, inspiring three follow-up movies and a prime spot on Freeform’s annual 31 Days of Halloween programming.

In the made-for-TV feature, 13-year-old Marnie Piper (Kimberly J. Brown) learns she’s a witch and travels to another world to help grandma Aggie (Debbie Reynolds) fight an unknown evildoer. 

Given its enduring popularity, it’s hard to imagine a time when Halloweentown wasn’t a sure thing. But two networks actually passed on the fantasy series that offered a glimpse into what exactly monsters, witches and warlocks do every other day of the year when they aren’t running amok on All Hallow’s Eve.

Created by Sheri Singer and her now-husband producer Steve WhiteHalloweentown had a long journey before coming a cult classic and holiday staple, with Singer revealing the franchise’s origin story in an exclusive interview with E! News. 

Oh, and did you know two of the stars reconnected in later years and are now a DCOM love story? And some of the cast members still have their costumes from the film series, breaking them out on Halloween to hand out candy to fans.

No tricks here, as we’re treating you to 15 fun facts about the Halloweentown franchise…

Singer White/Ventura Valley Film/Kobal/Shutterstock

1. How did the idea for Halloweentown come to be? It’s simple: Creator Sheri Singer‘s stepdaughter once asked, “Where do all the creatures from Halloween go the rest of the year when it’s not October 31?'”

 2. NBC initially bought the concept as a movie that would air at 9 p.m.…until the network ended up not doing anything with it as it felt too young for their adult audience.

3. Years later, Singer and Steve White brought it to Disney Channel, who initially passed on it. But after the success of their first original movie, 1997’s Under Wraps, they reconsidered.

Singer White/Ventura Valley Film/Kobal/Shutterstock

4. Because it was now a Disney production, the movie was changed a bit to skew even younger. “We were able to be very whimsical. We needed to create these really interesting characters,” Singer said. “They were fun and slightly scary, but not too scary.”

5.  While she wasn’t what the producers initially had in mind when it came to the young witch’s physical appearance (they were going for a blonde),  Singer said that 13-year-old Kimberly J. Brown “blew everyone else away” and landed the role of Marnie.

Singer White/Ventura Valley Film/Kobal/Shutterstock

6. The first actor cast in the project?  Legendary star Debbie Reynolds as Aggie, the witchy grandmother everyone wished they had.

“Debbie had decided she wanted to open herself up to doing some television. When we saw the list, we took one look at her name and said, oh my god, would she really do it?” Singer recalled. “This is absolutely unbelievably blessed and terrific idea for casting. And she did. We never went to anyone else.”

7. , Production chose St. Helens, a small town outside of Portland, Or., to build Halloweentown. Because of Since the Mount St. Helens volcano eruption in 1980, it was mostly a “ghost town,” according to Singer, so the locals were welcoming to the crew.

“They were so grateful to have us there and so easy to work with. We had a good crew up there and it fit the demands of the movie. We made all these storefronts. It was really fun and became very iconic.”

Disney Channel/Reel Fx Creative/Kobal/Shutterstock

8. Brown will occasionally break out one of her outfits from the film to wear on Halloween, a tradition Debbie, who died in 2016, passed onto her.

“Debbie gave me the idea, but she had Aggie’s cape and the purple dress and she used to answer the door for Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween in the outfit,” Brown shared. “I started doing it, too, one or two years in a row, I put on Marnie’s outfit, and gave out candy.”

9. In the fourth and final installment of the franchise in 2006, Marnie was recast, with Sara Paxton taking over the witchy role.

“I was definitely disappointed,” Brown said. Singer explained, “That was not something we wanted to do. We could not come to terms that we felt were fair. We just weren’t able to. We couldn’t make the deal work.” 

Disney Channel/Reel Fx Creative/Kobal/Shutterstock

10. St. Helens is so proud to be the home of Halloweentown, the town has dedicated the entire month of October to the film since 1998, hosting a festival for locals and tourists alike.

According to a communications officer from St. Helens, about 40,000-50,000 people visited in 2017.

11. The original cast of Piper-Cromwells reunited for the first time since Halloweentown High at the 2017 festival.

“It was nice to go back and honor Debbie. It’s such an honor that people want to come and hang out and see where it was filmed,” Brown said. “Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this is what we would be doing.”

12. While there are no official plans to continue the franchise, Singer said she would “like” to do a fifth movie, if the interest is there.

“I’d have to get Disney Channel to get on  board, but I would like to,” she said. “I have ideas of how I would do it. There was some talk about a year and a half ago but then it didn’t happen.” 

13. If it were to come to fruition, Singer envisioned “a musical,” adding, “There’s also ways to do a prequel. It’s not something I haven’t brought up before.” 

Instagram

14. Ready for DCOM nostalgia overload? Brown, who sells Halloweentown-themed merch on Etsy, is engaged to Daniel Kountz, her foe in Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge. The pair reconnected in May 2016 to start working on a few Improv sketches together.

“It’s been pretty fun getting to watch the fans’ reactions to it over the years,” Brown told E! News of the response to their relationship. “It cracks us up.”

15. And do you remember Marnie’s beau in Halloweentown High, Brown’s last outing as the witch? That was American Horror Story and Judy standout Finn Wittrock.

 “He got along with everybody right away and I know it must be interesting to join a cast that has so much history, and kind of come in and hang with us,” Brown told Seventeen of the star joining the cast. “He was awesome.”

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