Box office preview: 'Hansel and Gretel' set to lead Grimm weekend

HANSEL-AND-GRETEL-WITCH-HUNTERS

Image Credit: David Appleby

Last weekend, Mama managed to break out at the box office, while fellow newcomers The Last Stand and Broken City were left with only crumbs. This time around, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is looking to follow those crumbs straight to the top of the chart.

Also opening is the comedy Movie 43 and the Jason Statham action film Parker. Perhaps unsurprisingly, virtally no critics have seen any of the three new releases. Welcome to January at the box office.

1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – $17 million

Paramount and MGM’s $50 million adaptation of the popular fairy tale will likely top the chart in its debut weekend. The project, which re-imagines Hansel and Gretel as crossbow-wielding adults, was originally scheduled for release in March 2012, but Paramount pushed its release back to January in hopes that The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy might establish Witch Hunters star Jeremy Renner as a legitimate box office draw. While those films did raise Renner’s stock, he’s hardly blossomed into a Hugh Jackman or Will Smith-sized star. Renner was the least flashy piece of The Avengers, and he didn’t boost The Bourne Legacy‘s prospects — it earned a franchise-low $113.2 domestically.

More troubling is the fact that Hansel and Gretel looks like a relative of the ill-received fantasy adventure Van Helsing. The look of the film, when coupled with the fact that it wasn’t screened for critics, and the fact that it has been on the shelf for nearly a year, has created an aura of misfire around it before it’s official debut. Still, it’s playing in 3,300 theaters (2,900 of which are 3-D, and 300 of which are IMAX), and it’s had solid advertising behind it. Hansel and Gretel may hunt down about $18 million over the weekend.

2. Mama – $13 million

The horror champ may drop by about 55 percent in its sophomore frame, which would lift its cume to $49 million.

3. Zero Dark Thirty – $10.5 million

That other Jessica Chastain hit (the Oscar-nominated one) should fall by about 30 percent once again. A $10.5 million would give the Osama Bin Laden drama just over $70 million total.

4. Silver Linings Playbook – $8.5 million

Oscar buzz keeps building for the David O. Russell film, which may fall by a scant 25 percent in its eleventh frame to $8.5 million and $68 million.

5. Parker – $8 million

Jason Statham has made a career out of starring in underperforming action flicks, which often open under $10 million. Despite the addition of Jennifer Lopez in his latest film, Parker — which was financed for about $35 million and is being distributed in the U.S. by FilmDistrict — he’s likely headed to another sub-$10 million weekend. Out in 2,224 theaters, Parker may have to settle for just $8 million.

5. Movie 43 – $7 million

The comedy experiment, which stars half of Hollywood (give or take a few) in miniature segments that were each directed by different filmmakers, has not been easy for distributor Relativity to market. As such, audiences lack a clear understanding of what story the film is telling — never a good thing at the box office. Fortunately, Relativity spent only $6 million on the film. Unfortunately, Movie 43 won’t make much more than that on its opening weekend from 2,023 theaters.

Check back all weekend to see how the box office shakes out!

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