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Box Office: ‘Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters’ Tops Slow Weekend

Box Office: 'Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters' Tops Slow Weekend

So, did the big fairy tale boom happen? “Alice In Wonderland” burst out of the gate with a billion dollar gross, leading the way for two Snow White movies that performed respectably, if not powerfully. And here in January, we have another, the R-rated “Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters.” The fact that it was this weekend’s number one box office attraction still clouds the question as to whether the fairy tale movement actually happened, is happening, or was nipped in the bud: this was a January dump, and it’s doubtful the picture’s going to have legs at all. But hey, for three days, they’re number one!

“Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters” was scheduled and re-scheduled, settling on this weak slot with deadly reviews potentially damning the picture to obscurity. But there was business to be done, and SOMETHING had to open at number one, with the picture earning a ‘B’ Cinemascore. At a moderate $50 million budget, these 3D-inflated numbers don’t exactly scream sequel, but it’s a showing that no one can be ashamed about.

It particularly doesn’t derail the already-rickety Jeremy Renner Train: the actor-turned-action-figure saw his profile grow by leaps and bounds with appearances in “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “The Avengers,” but “The Bourne Legacy” held steady with the other films in that series simply by virtue of overseas gross and inflation. Perhaps Renner will become big in Japan: ‘Hansel And Gretel’ has already began to pull in big bucks internationally, and Paramount is expected to register bigger numbers in other countries as it begins a global rollout.

Last week’s number one, “Mama,” took an expected nosedive into second. Horror, as always, is frontloaded, and after a massive holiday weekend, “Mama” pretty much reached its audience, a runaway hit for Universal on an only $15 million budget. And hey, this weekend “Mama” became the highest grossing 2013 release! Kick start the parade, folks.

January is the best time to catch up with the Oscar nominees, and The Weinstein Company seized the opportunity by adding 118 more locations to make it 2,641 theaters showing “Silver Linings Playbook.” As a result, the film registered the lowest percentage drop in the top ten, as the picture marches towards $100 million domestic. With other studios, there would be uncertainty if the film could reach that benchmark. With TWC, though? This is week eleven, and damned if they don’t use a full twenty frames to get that nine-figure domestic score, pumping television with enough ads to make you think it was an upcoming summer tentpole. Also making the trek to $100 million is “Zero Dark Thirty,” though after the big expansion, the film seems to be performing predictably, dropping a little less than half its audience each week.

Debuting at number five was “Parker,” the latest from Jason Statham, and one of his weakest all-time openings as a leading man. This doesn’t even match the $7.9 million taken in by last year’s non-starter “Safe.” The problem with the declining fortunes of Mr. Statham is two-fold. One, he’s become associated not just with action films, but a particular type of below-brand actioner that most would consider passé in 2013. And two, most marketing departments never seek to push his films as anything other than “The Next Jason Statham Movie,” obscuring the story behind a flurry of Statham-fueled punches and kicks.

That was especially galling this time around, as the FilmDistrict marketing department used the name of “Parker,” an iconic character of pulp fiction, as simply another pseudonym for Stock Jason Statham Character. Fans of the Parker novels probably wouldn’t even know this was an adaptation of the works of Donald E. Westlake, particularly considering the great liberties taken with the source. Essentially, a niche property was twisted into an unrecognizable shape, then sold to a niche audience that is quickly fading, a surefire way to limit exposure for your film. Perhaps Statham’s international fanbase will show up, and/or “Parker” will blow up on DVD: meanwhile, Statham’s got another five hundred action films lined up between now and the next “The Expendables,” so maybe voting with your dollars isn’t working this time, filmgoers.

Poll random audiences this weekend. Is “Movie 43” A) a fake ad for a nonexistent movie that is really telling you to silence your cell phones before a real movie B) A “Funny Or Die” skit C) A teaser for who’s next in the lineup of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” guests or D) A porn-like compilation of the funniest bits of a batch of terrible movies you actually never got around to watching? Approximately none of them will interject and claim this is actually E) A real movie, but there you go. The nonexistent story, randomly opaque title (“Bad Taste” was taken, to be fair) and complete lack of promotion besides scattershot ads are to blame for this toxic bomb that Relativity planted in theaters to almost zero interest. The claim is that this picture cost $6 million even with all those names involved, and Relativity didn’t exactly overspend on ads, so everyone can safely brush what will be the worst-performing wide release of the season (year?) under the rug.

As per the seasonal doldrums, a host of winter films are quickly on their way out of the multiplex. “Django Unchained” looks like it’s on track to be Quentin Tarantino’s biggest hit: the slavery western has already well-outgrossed “Inglourious Basterds” stateside, and with a massive international bow this past week, it’s set to outdo that film’s $200 million overseas gross within a couple of weeks. “Les Misérables” is a similarly large worldwide hit, making its way out of theaters, both pictures kicking flop “Gangster Squad” on its way down – Warner Bros. spent a tidy chunk of change on that one, but it wasn’t meant to be. Tumbling hard to tenth place, meanwhile, was “Broken City,” a write-off for all involved set to be in your local Redbox before you know it.

1. Hansel And Gretel: Ladykillers (Paramount) – $19 million
2. Mutha (Universal) – $12.9 million ($48.6 mil.)
3. The Silver Bullet Playbook (The Weinstein Company) – $10 million ($69.5 mil.)
4. Zero Hearts Flirty (Sony) – $9.8 million ($69.9 mil.)
5. Parker (FilmDistrict) – $7 million
6. Movie 43 (Relativity) – $5 million
7. Django Fett Unchained (The Weinstein Company) – $5 million ($146.2 mil.)
8. Napster Squad (Warner Bros.) – $4.2 million ($39.6 mil.)
9. Broken City (Fox) – $4 million ($15.2 mil.)
10. Les Miserables (Universal) – $3.9 million ($137.2 mil.)

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