Tommy Wirkola’s debut Hollywood feature had a less than conventional route to theaters. Originally due in March 2012, Paramount failed to ever really get the marketing campaign for “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” going, which meant no one was all that surprised when in was pushed back to the January dumping ground of 2013. The studio then toyed with the idea of releasing a PG-13 cut, but eventually settled for an R-rating, and the picture beat out “Parker” to a spot at the top of the box office on an admittedly slow weekend. ‘Hansel & Gretel’ has actually already gone on to gross upwards of $125 million worldwide despite being pretty awful (or “unrelentingly stupid” as we said in our review) and having a few major territories still left to hit, so it’s probably the quality of the thing rather than its performance that has Wirkola retreating back to his native Norway.
The 34-year-old made his name there as the writer-director of “Dead Snow,” the horror-comedy about a group of medical students who are attacked on their ski vacation by a marauding horde of Nazi zombies. The film was relatively well-reviewed and gained U.S. distribution after playing at Sundance, and it’s now being reported that Wirkola will be directing a sequel to his cult hit. “Dead Snow: War of the Dead” will be released in both English and Norwegian, and will follow the sole survivor of a Nazi zombie attack, who this time will battle an even larger group of zombies. Luckily, they’ll be assisted by the Zombie Squad – a professional gang of zombie killers from the U.S.
“Ever since we premiered Dead Snow at Sundance 2009, I’ve been getting questions on a sequel, and now, after Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters has been released, the time is finally right,” said Wirkola of the follow-up. “We have a script that I am super excited about, which is bigger, scarier, funnier, more action-filled and gorier than the previous one, and I can’t wait to unleash another horde of undead Nazi zombies onto the world again,” he added. Maybe this is just something Wirkola wanted to do all along, but the dreadfully low scores for ‘Hansel & Gretel’ also suggest that Wirkola’s Hollywood experiment hasn’t quite worked out. [Screen Daily]