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‘Hansel and Gretel’ Slays Box Office as Other Star Vehicles Sputter

"Hansel and Gretel" tops with $19M, as wide openers "Parker" and "Movie 43" fizzle. Last week's winner "Mama" tops surging "Silver Linings Playbook" for second

"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” an R-rated 3D update of the classic Grimm's fairy tale starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, slashed its way to $19 million and the top of the domestic box office on a weekend that saw some stars stumble.

But industry analysts had expected more from the movie considering the premium pricing from the 2,900 3D and Imax locations out of a market-high 3,373 theaters. The 3D locations accounted for 55 percent of the grosses, and Imax brought in 11 percent. 

Cold and tough weather across much of the East Coast didn't help “Hansel and Gretel,” or the overall box office, which was down about 15 percent from the comparable weekend last year.


Paramount also opened "Hansel and Gretel" in 19 overseas markets and brought in $25 milliion. A solid overseas performance will be critical for the film to make money, given its $50 million budget.

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“We had a strong Saturday,” Paramount's head of distribution Don Harris told TheWrap, “so I think that weather really did hurt us on Friday. The international number was stronger than we expected, so we're about where we wanted to be worldwide.”

The R-rating may have cut into its performance here. Just 43 percent of the "Hansel and Gretel" audience was under 25, while 55 percent was male. That missing young female demographic was the target of the horror thriller “Mama,” which opened No. 1 last week. The Guillermo del Toro-produced horror thriller, starring Jessica Chastain, wound up second this weekend with $12.9 million.

Best Picture Oscar nominee "Silver Linings Playbook" was an impressive third. The Weinstein Company's oddball comedy dropped just 7 percent and took in $10 million after adding 118 screens for a total of 2,641. That ups its overall domestic total to $69.4 million after 11 weeks.

It finished just ahead of Sony's Best Picture Oscar contender "Zero Dark Thirty," Kathryn Bigelow's tale of the hunt for Osama bin Laden brought in $9.8 million in its sixth week and is at $69.9 million overall domestically. 

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"Hansel and Gretel" is the second movie in a row that two-time Best Actor Oscar nominee Renner has opened at No. 1, but like “The Bourne Legacy," it doesn't do much to establish him as a box-office force. "Bourne Legacy" opened to $38 million last August, but that was an established franchise. This opening, which did roughly $2 million better than that of another R-rated genre mash-up, last year's "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," likely ends any hopes for a franchise that co-financiers Paramount and MGM may have had.

The presence of Jennifer Lopez couldn't help Jason Statham in the crime drama "Parker." Directed by Taylor Hackford, the R-rated "Parker' took in $7 million from 2,224 locations over the three days for Film District.

That was better than the weekend's other wide opener, Relativity's ensemble sketch comedy "Movie 43," which fizzled with $5 million despite a galaxy of stars. The cast included Oscar nominees Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts, along with Seth MacFarlane, Halle Berry, Common, Richard Gere, Greg Kinnear, Kate Winslet, Uma Thurman, Emma Stone, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Dennis Quaid, Sean William Scott, Kristen Bell and Elizabeth Banks.

That's a lot of star wattage but most of the roles were cameos, and few of the performers did much to promote Peter Farrelly's oddball film, which was four years in the making. The budget was $6 million and most of the performers worked for scale.

Even the presence of 12 name directors didn't help. Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Patrik Forsberg, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner, Banks and Jonathan van Tulleken all directed a segment.

"Django Unchained,” another Best Picture Oscar nominee, finished seventh. It took in $5 million and fell just 35 percent from last week despite dropping 506 theaters. Its overall domestic total is now at $146.2 million. Warner Bros.' “Gangster Squad” was next with $$4.2 million.

Fox's Russell Crowe-Mark Wahlberg drama "Broken City" took in $4 million in its second week to top “Les Miserables” and "Lincoln," also Best Picture Oscar finalists.

Universal's star-studded musical added $3.9 million over the three days and DreamWorks' "Lincoln" brought in $3.8 million. The overall domestic haul for "Lincoln" is now $167 million after 12 weeks and "Les Miz' is at $137 million after five weeks.