Box Office Guru Wrapup: Hansel & Gretel Hunt Their Way to #1

Parker and Movie 43 are beaten by some Oscare nominees.

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This weekend, the horror-action combo Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters led a sluggish North American box office with a moderate debut that was more than enough to capture the number one spot. Two other new releases, Jason Statham's action film Parker and the raunchy comedy Movie 43, failed to attract much business, helping the overall marketplace lose steam. The top ten was filled with four Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, a handful of underperforming January releases, and an unusually high total of eight R-rated films.

Paramount captured the top spot with its Jeremy Renner vehicle Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters which grossed an estimated $19M this weekend. The R-rated story about the fairy tale siblings as hired guns in their adult years averaged a decent $5,635 from 3,372 locations with 55% of the gross coming from 3D screens.

Though not especially impressive, Hansel attracted respectable business and hopes to see better figures from international markets. Studio research showed that the crowd was 55% male and 57% 25 and older. The majority of films in the top ten appeal to adult males so competition was tough. Reviews were mostly negative for the $50M production which was co-financed with MGM. The opening weekend turnout was about even with that of last summer's period mash-up pic Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter which bowed to $16.3M and a similar $5,247 average with its R rating, 3D surcharges, and nearly identical demographic breakdown.

Last week's number one film Mama fell to second place with an estimated $12.9M after dropping 55%, an understandable decline for a supernatural thriller. Universal's $15M pic has grossed a solid $48.6M in ten days and should end near the $70M mark. Part of Mama's success has come from its PG-13 rating as all other films in the top nine this weekend were rated R.

Enjoying the best hold by far for any wide release was Oscar contender Silver Linings Playbook which eased only 7% to an estimated $10M pushing the cume up to a robust $69.5M. The Bradley Cooper-Jennifer Lawrence hit is well on its way to smashing the $100M mark and could go much higher if it remains durable over the weeks ahead. Rival Best Picture nominee Zero Dark Thirty ranked fourth with an estimated $9.8M, off 38%. The Sony release has collected a sturdy $69.9M to date.

Jason Statham's latest effort didn't excite too many moviegoers. The action star's Parker bowed to an estimated $7M from 2,224 theaters for a weak $3,147 average putting it on the lower end of the actor's standard opening weekend range. Statham continues to head up action projects -- usually with low budgets -- but routinely opens films below the $10M mark when anchoring on his own. Parker debuted a bit below the $7.9M of Safe from last year and the $9.4M of Killer Elite from 2011. Its CinemaScore grade was a decent B+. Overseas results and home video revenue should help to cover the costs down the road.

Giving film critics something to completely tear apart, Relativity saw almost no turnout for its raunchy comedy Movie 43 which flopped in a tie for sixth place with only an estimated $5M from 2,023 theaters for a weak $2,472 average. The R-rated picture with 12 credited directors boasted an impressive cast of actors including Oscar winners Halle Berry and Kate Winslet, current Academy Award nominees Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts, plus many other notable stars like Gerard Butler, Emma Stone, Richard Gere, Dennis Quaid, and Terrence Howard.

Produced by Peter Farrelly and featuring numerous short films strung together with a main plot, Movie 43 is already generating plenty of heat for next year's awards season -- for the Razzies, that is. The cheap $6M film earned a dismal D grade from moviegoers polled by CinemaScore. The audience was 51% male and 59% under 25.

The Weinstein Co. saw its other major Oscar contender Django Unchained fall 36% to an estimated $5M pushing the cume up to a stellar $146.3M. A strong $42.9M international weekend put the Quentin Tarantino pic at $111.5M overseas for a sturdy global gross of $257.8M. Fellow period pic Gangster Squad dropped 51% to an estimated $4.2M and has given Warner Bros. $39.6M to date.

After a weak bow, Broken City fell 52% in its second weekend to an estimated $4M putting Fox at just $15.3M after ten days. The blockbuster musical Les MisÚrables rounded out the top ten with an estimated $3.9M, down 48%, and a domestic tally of $137.2M. Universal has amassed $312.9M worldwide so far.

Overseas, Skyfall finally opened in China last Monday and generated a stunning $34.4M in the first seven days thanks to the widest release ever for that country with 8,000+ screens. The international total stands at $776.5M and will break $800M soon. The global gross is a towering $1.08 billion and the latest Bond will soon surpass The Dark Knight Rises for number seven on the all-time worldwide mega-blockbusters list.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $80.8M which was down 12% from last year when The Grey opened at number one with $19.7M; and down 8% from 2011 when The Rite debuted in the top spot with $14.8M.

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