LOS ANGELES Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters easily took No. 1 at the box office this weekend, but it was a Pyrrhic victory of sorts, as all three new films had unimpressive starts.
The action-heavy spin on the classic fairy tale starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton debuted to $19.6 million, according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures, while the Jason Statham action vehicle Parker and the wacky ensemble comedy Movie 43 both bombed, launching to $7 million and $4.8 million, respectively.
The only good news was for some of the returning Academy Awards contenders. Silver Linings Playbook enjoyed an extraordinarily small drop of 7 percent from last weekend, indicating that word of mouth is very strong in its second weekend of nationwide release. The dramatic comedy starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence took in $9.4 million and brought its total gross in U.S. and Canadian theaters to about $69 million.
Ticket sales for Zero Dark Thirty declined 38 percent, to $9.7 million, continuing the impressive run for the story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden and bringing its domestic box office total to about $70 million.
Django Unchained dropped only 35 percent, to about $5 million, upping its take so far to $146.2 million.
Going into the weekend, most in Hollywood had expected Hansel, which had the benefit of ticket price surcharges from 3-D and Imax screens, to open closer to $30 million. Paramount expected it to come in at more than $20 million.
The audience was older than pre-release surveys had predicted, with 57 percent of ticket-buyers over 25.
Fifty five percent were male.
Ticket sales jumped 38 percent from Friday to Saturday, indicating that the box office may have been depressed somewhat by bad weather on the East Coast on Friday evening. Megan Colligan, Paramount president of domestic marketing and distribution, noted that evening shows in the East were emptier than expected based on ticket sales earlier in the day.
Opening-day audiences gave the movie a solid grade of B, according to market research firm CinemaScore.
Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer spent roughly $50 million to produce Hansel & Gretel.
The studios’ financial hopes for the 3-D movie rest largely overseas, where Hansel & Gretel has so far grossed $35.8 million from 20 markets, with Russia leading the way.
There is less hope of eventual success for the backers of Parker, which cost about $30 million to make. Financed by a number of companies, rights in the U.S. and Canada were acquired by independent distributor Film District.
Those who saw it liked Parker, giving it an average grade of B-plus.
The picture marks the lowest opening for Statham since the 2009 flop Crank: High Voltage. For co-star Jennifer Lopez, it’s the worst launch since the 2003 fiasco Gigli.
Movie 43 cost only about $6 million to make, but, given the costs of releasing and marketing it nationwide, the opening numbers still mark a disappointment for independent studio Relativity Media.
The unusual production is a series of intertwined comedy vignettes that feature 12 credited directors and a cast that includes Hugh Jackman and Emma Stone.
But audiences were not impressed and gave it a CinemaScore of D.
MovieStyle, Pages 36 on 02/01/2013
Print Headline: Hansel & Gretel tops weak week