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Box Office: WILL "HANSEL & GRETEL" HAVE A FAIRY TALE ENDING?
Source: Jeff Bock
Date: Jan 24, 2013
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We all know January can be a dumping ground for studios--the abysmal openings of "The Last Stand" and "Broken City" prove that-- but nothing says "dropping a load" like the combined efforts of this week's releases: "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters," "Movie 43," and "Parker." Theaters are about to be hit with a Mississippi Mudcloud--that means some down and dirty debuts to you and me. 

If fanboys can save the day, it's possible Paramount's R-rated fairy tale adaptation may end up cooking the competition, however, that's a pretty tall order for a film that has jumped release dates as much as "Hansel & Gretel" has. In Hollywood terms, change may be good, but release date changes are bad. Very bad. It usually means there's some pretty serious issues with the quality of the film and that its been testing poorly in pre-screenings.  The only difference between "Hansel & Gretel" and "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" is that there was no way to add more Channing Tatum to this.  

Either way, Paramount is having a tough go of it lately, as their holiday 2012 releases--"Jack Reacher," "The Guilt Trip," and "Cirque Du Soleil"--all fizzled out at the box office.  "Hansel & Gretel" cos an estimated $50 million, and although foreign receipts will easily carry it to profitability...don't hold your breath for a sequel. And even though rising star Jeremy Renner headlines as Hansel, expect the R-rating to burn the chances of a massive opening...although it is in over 2,900 3-D screens, which will boost the bottom line a bit.

After the success of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," I realize every studio in town was greenlighting any and all fairy tale adaptations, but don't studio execs know that those stories are, at the core, for kids? Whomever said "let's make this adult's only" should be burned at the stake, I mean you can't really lure in college kids with lollipops and other confectionary treats.Which would've been a sweet marketing move. 

With families cut out of the picture, Paramount has to hope that the same patrons that made "Zombieland" and "Underworld" a hit, turn out for this one. And that's about as likely as finding a pack of Hostess Twinkies on the shelves at your local 7-11 right now...or is it? 

Debuting in an ultra-wide 3,372 theaters, Paramount themselves are estimating an opening near $20 million, while other prognosticators are even more bullish at $30 million. Could this be? Either way, that would easily be enough to win the weekend.

"Parker" is destined for discount DVD bin, but that's no surprise as Statham's action career has been in slo-mo lately with his latest solo adventures failing to open with more than $10 million.  In fact, with Arnie's "The Last Stand" crashing and burning last weekend, and Sly's "Bullet to the Head" destined to die a quick death next weekend, consider "Parker" the tie that binds the three bombs together.

"Expendables 3" can't come soon enough! In 2,224 theaters...$8 million or bust. Speaking of busts, did anyone realize J. Lo is in this? And in her undies?! She certainly still has enough junk in the trunk, but I'm not sure anyone cares at this point.

"Amazon Women on the Moon" and "Kentucky Fried Movie" were great anthologies of skits that became cult classics when they were finally discovered...on video. Relativity is taking a pretty big risk releasing a compilation comedy in wide release, especially one aimed at the YouTube Generation.

Most of those kids are like 14 years old, and this is rated R...so you know how this will play out. I'm tempted to say $4.3 million, but will go with $6 million because Gerard Butler playing a Leprechaun is pretty funny and really, half of Hollywood is in this. If they can just convince all their Twitter followers to go, this could actually be #1.  The irony is, because of the remarkable cast they've assembled, most people I've talked to don't actually believe it's a real movie. The joke is on them.

So who's #1 this weekend?

"Mama" was the right film at the right time.  And by right film, I mean "PG-13." Sometimes that's all it takes. With the deluge of "R" rated product in multiplexes right now, teens voted for Jessica Chastain as the scream queen with "Mama" nursing its way to $32 million over the 4-day holiday--twice the film's budget! Even after knocking off Schwarzenegger and Wahlberg with her 1-2 punch of "Mama" and "Zero Dark Thirty" Chastain's reign of pain may not be over just yet. Witch hunters, Jason Statham and half of Hollywood might be next. 

Certainly "Mama" won't see the hellacious drop that "Texas Chainsaw 3D" experienced as it got ripped in its sophomore session, falling off -75%--one of the worst second-weekend drops for a #1 film of all-time. "Mama" actually has decent reviews and good word-of-mouth, unlike the latest Leatherface flick, which was shredded by moviegoers and critics alike. If "Mama" can hold and only drop 50%, $14 million might be in the cards.

Watch as Universal will shift its marketing of "Mama" towards older audiences this week, attempting to piggyback the success of Chastain's Golden Globe win for "Zero Dark Thirty." The studio will do this simply by calling the horror film a "thriller" instead. Might just work, too, with the unseasonable levels of suck that is forecast for theaters this weekend. 

 

WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1. Hansel & Gretel - $19M

2. Mama - $14M

3. Zero Dark Thirty - $11.5M

4. Silver Linings Playbook - $9.5M

5. Parker - $8M

 


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