In an interview with the Australian magazine Cinema Papers in the early 1990s, director George Miller revealed that the shoot had been extremely difficult because he was initially unfamiliar with Hollywood-style communication. In a meeting to discuss ways to reduce the budget, Miller volunteered to give up his trailer because he was always needed on the set and had no time to use it. The studio concluded that he was a pushover, so they began to interfere with his production requests. If he asked for 50 extras, the studio would provide a dozen. If he asked for two cameras they would provide one. Miller decided to fight fire with fire, and refused to shoot each scene until his production demands were met. The studio responded by looking for a new director, but were prevented by Jack Nicholson, who supported Miller and vowed to walk off the production if he was replaced.
According to George Miller, producer Jon Peters suddenly decided he wanted aliens to appear in the movie, even though it didn't make sense with the story. Miller thinks that Peters was influenced by the box office success of Aliens (1986). He even showed up one day on set with a stunt man dressed as an alien and told Miller to put him in a scene, any scene. Miller and Jack Nicholson then left the set until Peters gave up on his fixation.
Cher was offered the role of Jane but preferred the part of Alexandra, the role that Susan Sarandon had been hired to play. Sarandon did not discover that she would be playing Jane until she showed up on location.
The town of Cohasset, Massachusetts was used for Eastwick. The film was also shot in Scituate in the same commonwealth. Massachusetts is also the location of Salem, where the famous witch trials of 1692-93 took place. It was also the home of source novelist John Updike.
Alexandra's line, "Big deal, it's not like it's gonna get us on David Letterman" (spoken in one of the first scenes of the movie where the three women discover they might have telepathy) was different in the script, mentioning Johnny Carson instead. Cher decided to say Letterman because she personally disliked Carson. Years earlier, while watching the 1968 presidential election returns at Jack Benny's house, an aggravated Carson had reprimanded Cher and sent her to the den for making rude jokes about Richard Nixon. After that she refused to go on The Tonight Show unless a guest was hosting.
A small woodcarving shop in Scituate, Massachusetts was commissioned to hand-carve all of the signs for the shops shown in the movie, including The Eastwick Word. After filming, The Eastwick Word sign was converted into a coffee table for one of the executives involved with the film.
Industrial Light and Magic was hired to animated the tennis ball as it violates the laws of physics the tennis match. However, when it turned out the three main actresses were not very proficient tennis players, the effects company saw their workload doubled, as they were asked to create the ball for the entire sequence (with the exception of some close-ups).
The centrally-located New England style heritage white church seen in the film was the First Parish Meeting House, built in 1746 and located in Cohasset, Massachusetts. After shooting on the film was completed, the production made a donation to assist with the restoration of this historic building.
The opening shot zooming in on the town of Eastwick was originally to feature a seagull flying along with the camera. Visual Effects Supervisor Michael Owens had great difficulty finding a suitable bird. The plan was to acquire a taxidermy-type bird and put animatronics in it. First, it turned out to be illegal to own a dead seagull in California. When they were able to borrow one, another law stated it to be returned to its legal owner in the same condition it came in. After turning the bird into a rod-puppet of sorts, the team spent weeks perfecting the motion with up to ten puppeteers working simultaneously. In the end, none of their work ended up on screen, because the opening credits were added to the shot, and the seagull was found to be too distracting.
One of the movie's taglines, "Something wicked this way comes," is derived from a passage in William Shakespeare's "Macbeth", Scene IV, Act i. It's spoken, not surprisingly, by the play's Second Witch character. It reads: "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes." The phrase is also the title of a Ray Bradbury novel and movie, the latter of which had debuted about just four years earlier in 1983 [See: Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)].
According to the DVD production notes, Location Manager Sam Mercer traveled over twenty thousand miles scouting for locations in the north east regions of the USA to find a suitable place for the village of Eastwick. There were two essential criteria for the film's town, (1) A white church and (2) An associated small central business district.
A "grimoire" is a textbook of magic. The name of the one in the film was "Maleficio". Wikipedia states "such books typically include instructions on how to create magical objects like talismans and amulets, how to perform magical spells, charms and divination and also how to summon or invoke supernatural entities such as angels, spirits, and demons".
Jane's character believes she can't have children of her own until Daryl gets her pregnant. Susan Sarandon also thought she couldn't have children, until becoming pregnant with director Franco Amurri's child, Eva Amurri Martino, who was born in 1985.
The picture later spurred an unsold 1992 TV series pilot, The Witches of Eastwick (1992), about five years later; and a spin-off TV series Eastwick (2009), first broadcast around twenty-two years later.
In 2000, the movie was turned into an award-winning West End (London) stage musical by Cameron Mackintosh. It was adapted from John Updike's novel by Dana P. Rowe and John Dempsey. Among the cast was Lucie Arnaz as Alexandra.
All four stars have performed at least one song in a movie: Jack Nicholson sang "La Vie en Rose" in Something's Gotta Give (and had his solo cut out of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever); Cher sang in Mermaids and Burlesque; Susan Sarandon appeared in The Rocky Horror Picture Show singing numerous songs; and Michelle Pfeiffer appeared in Grease 2, The Fabulous Baker Boys and Hairspray. None of them sings in Witches of Eastwick.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
A life-size animatronic puppet was made of actress Veronica Cartwright for the cherry pit vomiting scene. It gathered a lot of attention on set because it could realistically thrash about convulsively and spew out massive amounts of vomit on cue. However, preview audiences found the sequence too disgusting, and all the shots involving the puppet were cut out of the film.
One potential endings that was abandoned even before shooting was completed took place in the pool area instead of the kitchen. This version would have had noticeably fewer special effects, apart from the fact that Jack Nicholson was to have walked on water.
Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer were together in Wolf (1994) and both were Batman franchise villains. Nicholson was the Joker in Batman (1989) and Pfeiffer played Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992). In this movie, when Pfeiffer gets sick in one scene, she collapses in a Joker cartoon chair.