One week before the Super Bowl is likely put theatrical grosses in the tank, Hollywood suffered a premature blow, a 15% decline from the same frame last year when the survival drama The Grey opened with $20 million.  The problem was poor performing newcomers.  The reconfigured fairy tale Hansel and Gretel: Witchhunters, which finds the eponymous brother and sister from the Brothers Grimm saga all grown up and settled into careers as witch-hunting vigilantes, topped the box office with an estimated $19 million, while the crime drama Parker landed at number 5 with an estimated $7 million, and the anthology comedy Movie 43 bombed as it finished in seventh place with $5 million.
Hansel & Gretel stars Jeremy Renner (The Avengers) and Gemma Atherton (Captain America: The First Avenger) as gun-toting witch hunters.  With all of its gratuitous gun violence, the "R" rated action comedy, whose debut date was changed three times, might have benefited had it opened a little farther away from the Newtown massacre.  The opening weekend audience was predictably 55% male and a bit older even for an "R" rated movie (57% over 25).  The problem is that they gave the film a mediocre "B" CinemaScore, which could limit its earnings over the coming weeks as could terrible reviews (the film got just a 15% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes).  With a cost that reportedly ranged up to $83 million, Hansel and Gretel will have to do well overseas to break even--and the movie is off to a good start in some territories (especially Russia).  3D showings accounted for 55% of the film’s gross.

Weekend Box Office (Studio Estimates): January 25-27, 2013



Weekend Gross




Total Gross



Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters














Silver Linings Playbook







Zero Dark Thirty














Django Unchained







Movie 43







Gangster Squad







Broken City







Les Miserables






Last week’s winner, the classic horror/suspense film Mama, dropped just 54% (a good showing for a horror movie) and earned an estimated $12.9 million.  Made for just $15 million, Mama has already earned $49 million domestically and looks like it might end up making more than any horror film did in 2012.  Will the success of this old school horror classic (produced by Guillermo del Toro) be enough of a wake-up call to get Hollywood horror mavens to give up on their penchant for excessive gore and torture porn? 
The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook fared even better, dropping just 7% (it added 118 theaters).  The Oscar hopeful, which was made for $21 million, has now earned $70 million in North America, which is almost the exact domestic total of Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, which dropped 38% in its sixth week in theaters as it finished at #4.  It now appears that Silver Linings Playbook, which has finally almost caught up with Zero Dark Thirty, will end up earning more money domestically than Bigelow’s film.
Taylor Hackford’s Parker, which is based on a novel by Donald E. Westlake (writing as Richard Stark) that has been filmed twice before (n 1967 as Point Blank, and in 1999 as Payback, and which has also been adapted into a brilliant graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke published by IDW publishing.  Jason Statham stars in Hackford’s film along with Jennifer Lopez. Parker opened about the same as Statham’s most recent effort Safe ($7.9). Its only chance of success at this point lies in decent word-of-mouth, Parker’s "B+" CinemaScore was the best earned by any of this week’s newcomers, so the film might be able to display some legs.  But unless it accomplishes a major turnaround, it remains dubious that any more of Westlake’s Parker novels will be adapted for the big screen in the near future.
Parker’s debut was weak, but the real bomb of the weekend was the anthology comedy Movie 43, which earned just $5 million in its debut.  The film, which was made for just $6 million, will probably make money, but not much.  With 12 directors, 30 name actors, and 18 writers working for scale on short films that are only loosely-tied together, Movie 43 was cheap to make (just $6 million), but didn’t please either the critics (only 5% positive) or audiences (it received the deadly "D" CinemaScore).  Despite its "R" rating Movie 43 attracted an audience that was young (59% under 25) and 51% male.
Check back next week to see what happens in the theaters on Super Bowl weekend when the zombie comedy/romance Warm Bodies, the geriatric buddy comedy Stand-Up Guys, and the Sly Stallone and Sung Kang crime drama Bullet to the Head all attempt to lure fans away from the small screen and into the Cineplex.