Terry Matalas is well known in the realm of science fiction TV, from spearheading Syfy’s 12 Monkeys to his work on multiple Star Trek shows, including being the showrunner on the latter two seasons of Star Trek: Picard. Picard Season 3 will premiere to Paramount+ subscribers in a couple months, but ahead of that, it’s been announced that Matalas will team up with Star Wars director Bryce Dallas Howard to bring back a beloved Disney franchise back for the Mouse House’s streaming service.
Disney+ has given the greenlight to a Witch Mountain pilot, which is described as a reimagining of the same-named film franchise. Terry Matalas co-wrote and pilot with Travis Fickett, and both men are executive producing, as is Euphoria’s Augustine Frizzell, who will direct the pilot. The official plot description for the Witch Mountain pilot says it follows “two teens that develop strange abilities and discover their sleepy suburb may not be as idyllic as it seems.” The Witch Mountain franchise is based off the 1968 novel Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key, and this series will be its first installment since 2009’s Race to Witch Mountain, a remake of the Escape to Witch Mountain movie from 1975.
Bryce Dallas Howard has come aboard the Witch Mountain pilot to play Audrey, the devoted and loving mother of Tia, one of the project’s starring young protagonists. With her husband having died as a result of his schizophrenia, Audrey has been trying to reassure Tia that she won’t fall into a similar dark spiral. And while Audrey presents as a “warm mama bear type,” not everything is as it seems with her, like so many of the people in the town where Witch Mountain takes place.
Witch Mountain continues Bryce Dallas Howard’s collaboration with Disney+ (opens in new tab), as she’s previously directed episodes of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, as well as voiced Yaddle in Tales of the Jedi. Howard is also on deck to helm the platform’s Flight of the Navigator reboot. Should Witch Mountain be picked up to series, maybe she’ll have the opportunity to work behind the cameras there as well. Howard was also recently seen reprising Claire Dearing in Jurassic World Dominion, and next year she’ll star opposite Henry Cavill in Argylle, which will be streamable with an Apple TV+ subscription.
Bryce Dallas Howard is one of five actors who’s been cast in the Witch Mountain pilot as series regulars. The aforementioned Tia, who will be played by Isabel Gravitt, is described as a straight-A student who many see as “perfect,” but she sees herself as flawed and is worried she’ll develop schizophrenia like her father did. On top of that, Tia experiences “hallucinations” in which “people around her step outside their living bodies and voice their deepest, darkest fears and desires and rages.” Gravitt is joined by Levi Miller, who’s playing Ben, a trouble teenager who makes ends meeting writing papers for other students, but also has a bad temper and will get expelled if he hits another student. Ben finds himself being drawn to Tia after discovering he has the ability to “force others in his vicinity to move according to his will.”
Then there’s Corey, played by Bianca “b” Norwood, who is Ben’s tattooed best friend and co-worker at the town’s diner, though they don’t like it when Ben tries to act as their protector. Like Ben, Corey is close to being expelled and looks like they’re the personification of “a My Chemical Romance song that became an anime fan.” Finally, we have Jackson Kelly’s Peter, Tia’s close friend who’s infatuated with her, but she doesn’t notice his charms or devotion. However, once Tia starts noticing the “impossible things” happening around her, she learns that Peter’s “observant cautious nature” might be the key to figuring out what is going on.
It’ll likely be a long time until Witch Mountain becomes available for Disney+ subscribers to watch, but we’ll keep you apprised of more details concerning this reinvention as they come in. For now, you can watch all five prior Witch Mountain movies on the same streaming service.