Credit: David Appleby

This weekend, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters hunted down the No. 1 spot at the box office with $19 million from 3,372 theaters. Although Hansel and Gretel can hardly be called a fairy-tale success at this point, it proved far more bewitching than fellow newcomers Parker and Movie 43, which were left with only bread crumbs in their sad debut frame.

Paramount and MGM spent $50 million to produce Hansel and Gretel, which was shot in 2011 and originally scheduled to be released in March 2012. Distributor Paramount moved the film’s release to this month to capitalize on star Jeremy Renner, whom the studio hoped would blossom into a true box-office draw following The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy. (It also seems likely that Hansel and Gretel got placed in January due to its poor quality — January tends to be a dumping ground for studios’ stinkers.) Whether or not Renner had anything to do with it, the date change proved at least somewhat effective — Hansel and Gretel outgrossed the last supernatural fantasy with Hunter in the title, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which staked a weak $16.3 million in its debut frame.

3-D showings of Hansel and Gretel accounted for 55 percent of its weekend gross, while IMAX made up 11 percent of the total. Due to its R rating, the Grimm tale played primarily to older audiences — 57 percent of crowds were above the age of 25, and 55 percent were male. Audiences issued the film a lukewarm “B” CinemaScore grade, so it seems unlikely that Hansel and Gretel will achieve strong word of mouth. Fortunately for Paramount (the studio suffered a rough winter with Jack Reacher, The Guilt Trip, Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away, and Rise of the Guardians — which passed $100 million this weekend), the film has already earned $35.8 million from international territories representing about 40 percent of the overseas market.

Last weekend’s box office champ, Mama, dropped 55 percent into second place with $12.9 million. With $48.7 million after 10 days, Universal’s $15 million horror entry has officially surpassed Gangster Squad as 2013’s highest grossing release. Of course, that will change faster than you could say Iron Man 3, but it’s an impressive performance nonetheless.

Two Oscar contenders finished in third and fourth place with almost identical weekend grosses — not to mention almost identical totals. Silver Linings Playbook dropped by an incredibly small 7 percent in its 11th weekend to $10 million. Weinstein’s $21 million drama continues to benefit from great word of mouth. And with $69.5 million so far and another month until the Oscars still to go, director David O. Russell’s Playbook is on track to finish above $100 million. Zero Dark Thirty, meanwhile, fell by a steeper 38 percent to $9.8 million and $69.9 million total in its sixth weekend. The $40 million Sony drama will need to notch better holds if it wants to join fellow Best Picture nominees Argo, Lincoln, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, and Life of Pi in the $100 million club.

Jason Statham’s annual action misfire Parker lived up to its low expectations, finishing in fifth place with $7 million from 2,224 theaters. FilmDistrict’s shoot-em-up, whose budget was in the $35 million range, didn’t get any boost from costar Jennifer Lopez, who proved unable to attract viewers outside her go-to rom-com genre. Parker opened short of Statham’s last three leading efforts, Safe ($7.9 million debut), Killer Elite, ($9.3 million), and The Mechanic ($11.4 million), and it will likely finish below $20 million domestically. Between Parker, The Last Stand, Broken City, and Gangster Squad, January has been a difficult month for non-fantasy gun-driven violence. But at least audiences enjoyed Parker — it earned a “B+” CinemaScore grade.

1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – $19.0 million

2. Mama – $12.9 million

3. Silver Linings Playbook – $10.0 million

4. Zero Dark Thirty – $9.8 million

5. Parker – $7.0 million

Back in seventh place, the ill-conceived experimental comedy Movie 43 opened with a truly terrible $5 million from 2,023 theaters, giving it an awful $2,472 average. The raunchy film, which fortunately cost Relativity only $6 million to produce, features the likes of Halle Berry, Kate Winslet, Dennis Quaid, Emma Stone, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, and Gerard Butler (who can’t catch a box-office break lately), yet all the stars in Hollywood wouldn’t have been able to counteract the film’s incoherent advertising campaign, which gave viewers little understanding of what Movie 43 — a series of comic sketches, each with different directors and stars — was actually about.

Exit polls indicate that audiences, 59 percent of whom were below the age of 25, were evenly split between males and females. The film also played to diverse crowds: 37 percent were Caucasian, 37 percent Latino, 11 percent Asian, 8 percent African American and 7 percent other ethnicities. Alas, viewers didn’t like what they saw and issued the film a “D” CinemaScore grade.

Next week brings the release of Sylvester Stallone actioner Bullet to the Head, which seems destined for sad numbers given the performances of similar titles, as well as Warm Bodies, which hopes to tap into the lucrative YA market. Check back next week to see how they fare!

For more box office musing and up-to-the-minute updates:

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

  • Movie
  • R
  • 88 minutes
  • Tommy Wirkola