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What to Expect from ‘Candyman’

If the 1992 ‘Candyman’ scared you, the 2021 version will make sure you never sleep again.
Candyman 2021
Universal Pictures
By  · Published on July 12th, 2021

Welcome to Great Expectations, a recurring series in which we break down the most essential information about an upcoming movie or show. In this edition, we look at what you can expect from the 2021 Candyman sequel, including its cast, plot, release date, and more.


In 1992, the original Candyman movie came out and changed many people’s relationship to mirrors — and bees — forever. For those new to the chilling lore, allow me to explain. The legend of the Candyman goes like this: a poor, naive soul says the name “Candyman” into reflective glass five times, and a swarm of bees, followed by a mysterious figure wielding a hook for a hand, appears behind them. And, well, you can guess the rest.

The first installment of the franchise, directed by Bernard Rose, was inspired by Clive Barker’s short story “The Forbidden.” The movie follows graduate student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), who decides to write her graduate thesis on the role of the Candyman legend in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green housing project. Unsurprisingly, messing with a dangerous mythical figure doesn’t turn out to be the smartest idea.

Upon its release, Candyman saw great success. It was followed by two sequels: Candyman: Farewell to Flesh (1995), and Candyman: Day of the Dead (1999). Now, two decades later, the urban legend is back. Produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out) and directed by Nia DaCosta (Little Woods), the new 2021 installment of Candyman promises to resurrect all of the thrills of the original — with some exciting new twists. Just don’t be surprised if you can’t look in your mirror for a few days after watching it.

Candyman Release Date (and Where to Watch)

Candyman was supposed to come out last summer, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its release was significantly delayed. The long-awaited 2021 Candyman sequel will finally reach audiences far and wide in movie theaters on its new release date, August 27th. It is unclear when the film will be available to stream in the US, but its initial digital release date, for a prestige VOD rental, will either be seventeen or thirty-one days after it opens. Universal’s deal with theaters is determined by its opening weekend box office gross. It stays exclusive to cinemas longer if it does more than $50 million in its debut. So look out for our box office analysis on August 30th to see the outcome. For now, you can purchase tickets… at your own risk!

Candyman Cast

While Tony Todd will be reprising his role as the one and only Candyman for the 2021 sequel, the remainder of the new movie’s lead players is comprised of newcomers to the franchise. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (HBO’s Watchmen) stars in the sequel as Anthony McCoy, an artist whose work is inspired by the gruesome legend. Teyonah Parris (WandaVision) plays Anthony’s girlfriend, Brianna Cartwright, and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Generation) plays her brother, Troy. Colman Domingo (Zola) plays William Burke, a man who informs Anthony about the Candyman.

The Plot of the Sequel

You won’t recognize him, but Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s character, Anthony McCoy, actually appears in the 1992 movie. As a baby, he was kidnapped by the Candyman, but Helen Lyle rescued him. Now, decades later, Anthony returns to the Cabrini-Green neighborhood – though the housing project is mostly gone and the area has been gentrified beyond recognition. Upon arrival, he becomes obsessed with the Candyman myth and allows it to influence his art. Spoiler alert: making Candyman-based art is probably not the best idea. Now, thanks to Anthony, Candyman is back. Another spoiler alert: that’s not a good thing.

Watch the Trailers

If you think the first trailer for Candyman achieved peak creepiness, you’re wrong. The second trailer comes with even more chilling moments. Anthony getting stuck in an elevator after saying the forbidden word one too many times? I don’t know if I’m brave enough for that. Check out both trailers here. Warning: don’t watch them if you’re afraid of bees. Or bloodthirsty dudes with hooks for hands.

The Candyman vs. Leprechaun Mashup that Almost Happened

Candyman had a couple of sequels, but deep in the vault of what could have been there was nearly a crossover movie pitting the title boogeyman against the villain of the Leprechaun franchise. In 2019, Tony Todd told Dread Central that he was once offered a role in the horror franchise mashup. His response:

“‘I will never be involved in something like that.’ I respect the character. Once a horror character becomes something of an icon [like Candyman], reluctantly or not, you have to treat that with respect. I remember watching ‘Abbott and Costello vs Frankenstein’ as a kid and being amazed that my horror legends were making a comedy. So I guess there are some ways to make something like that work, but I wasn’t interested in doing that with Candyman.”

Were we robbed of Candyman vs. Leprechaun’s brilliance? I guess we’ll never know. One thing is for sure, though: whether you’re a seasoned fan of the franchise, or you’re looking to get hooked (get it?) on something new, Candyman has something for everyone. You just might want to cover your mirror up for a few days after watching it.

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Aurora Amidon spends her days running the Great Expectations column and trying to convince people that Hostel II is one of the best movies of all time. Read her mostly embarrassing tweets here: @aurora_amidon.