As expected Paramount's Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, the ultra-violent update of the classic fairy tale, topped the box office for the weekend of Jan. 25. But unlike a certain evil witch's house, it wasn't exactly made of candy. It opened in 3,372 theaters, including in 3-D and IMAX, but wound up grossing $19 million. It had been expected to earn somewhere in the low to mid-$20 millions. For a movie that had been heavily publicized and stars the bankable Jeremy Renner (The Avengers) and Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace), that's gotta be seen as somewhat disappointing, but a 38% uptick on Saturday showed that among moviegoers word-of-mouth was solid. Blame the frosty weather blanketing much of the eastern United States for moviegoers staying home, and, in the case of Hansel & Gretel, the even frostier reviews it received from critics. It only earned a score of "22" out of 100 on the review aggregation site Metacritic.com.
Actually, "underperformance" was the keyword to understand all of the box office numbers this weekend. The other big new debuts, the Jason Statham/Jennifer Lopez actioner Parker and the bizarre collection of raunchy short films called Movie 43 that seemed to rope in most of Hollywood's A-List, opened very soft. FilmDistrict's Parker premiered in 2,224 theaters but only made $7 million to land at No.5, while Movie 43, which couldn't even get a Metacritic score half as large as 43, posted a sluggish $5 million to enter at No. 7.
Neither of them could overtake Jessica Chastain's surprise horror-hit Mama, which banked another $12.9 million to place No. 2 behind Hansel & Gretel. Chastain failed to replicate the one-two box office dominance of Mama and Zero Dark Thirty that she managed the weekend of Jan. 18, but the latter film continued to perform strong with $9.8 million being added to its $69.9 million haul. Speaking of Oscar hopefuls, Silver Linings Playbook held on to the No. 3 spot, with another $10 million proving that Harvey Weinstein's gradual-release strategy really does pay off.
Here are the weekend's Top 5
1. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters: $19 million
2. Mama: $12.68 million; Cume: $48.65 million
3. Silver Linings Playbook: $10 million; Cume: $69.46 million
4. Zero Dark Thirty: $9.8 million; $69.9 million
5. Parker: $7 million
[Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures]
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