One of the 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 less special effects, apart from the fact that Jack Nicholson was to have walked on water.
In an interview with the Australian magazine Cinema Papers in the early 1990s, the director, George Miller, revealed that the shoot had been extremely difficult as 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. This was interpreted by the studio as him being 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.
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.
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 village of Eastwick was portrayed by the town of Cohasset in Massachusetts, USA. The film was also shot in Scituate in the same province. The American state is also the home of Salem where the famous witch trials of 1692-93 had taken place. The USA province was also the home of source novelist John Updike.
According to George Miller, producer Jon Peters suddenly decided he wanted aliens to appeared on 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 on a scene, any scene. Miller and Jack Nicholson then left the set until Peters gave up on his fixation.
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.
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 was "Something wicked this way comes" which is a phrase derived from a passage in William Shakespeare's "Macbeth", Scene IV, Act i, and spoken, not surprisingly, by a witch, 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)].
The centrally-located New England style heritage white church seen in the film was portrayed by 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 dwelling.
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.
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 when the three women discover they might be telepathic, 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 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.
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.
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".
In 2000, the movie was turned into an award-winning comedy musical by Cameron Mackintosh. It was adapted from the film's source John Updike novel was adapted into a stage musical by Dana P. Rowe and John Dempsey.
One of three cinema movies first released in 1987 that featured star Jack Nicholson. Nicholson appears briefly in Broadcast News (1987) as star evening news anchorman Bill Rorish, in the lead role as Francis Phelan in Ironweed (1987), and as the devil Daryl Van Horne in The Witches of Eastwick (1987).
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.
Both Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer were together in Wolf (1994) and were both Batman franchise villains. Nicholson was the Joker in Batman (1989) and Pfeiffer played Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992). When Pfeiffer gets sick in one scene, she collapses in a Joker cartoon chair.