With January typically relegated as a dumping ground for movies that the studios can't figure out, no one at Cinema Blend was looking forward to Tommy Wirkola's delayed revisionist fairy tale Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters...except for me. I'd enjoyed the Norwegian director's bizarre and bloody brand of humor in the Nazi-zombie movie Dead Snow, and I can't get enough of Jeremy Renner. So, I was hopeful. Most of the critic community ultimately loathed the R-rated tale of fantasy terror, but I loved it deeply.
A few weeks later, while sharing some of the movie's creepy concept art, I also shared my hopes for a sequel, since its box office numbers were steadily proving promising. And now I have great news! Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 2 is in the works! Deadline reports that today Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters crossed the $200 million at the global box office, spurring the announcement from Paramount that a sequel is on its way.
Full disclosure: I literally squealed with excitement over this news.
Notably, here in the US, the movie didn't thrive, despite being #1 it's opening weekend with $19 million at the box office. It's gone on to earn only $54 million domestically, which is only a little more than the budget to which Paramount admits. But that's okay, guys. For one thing, the rest of the world turned out in force. And for another, you can get on board when it Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters comes out on DVD and Blu-ray. (Add to Amazon wishlist, and check!)
Paramount and Gary Sanchez Productions (Will Ferrelll and Adam McKay's company) are expected to reteam for round two. Unknown is whether Wirkola will be back. If Paramount had been planning for a franchise, then the first film's leads, (Renner, Gemma Arterton, and Thomas Mann) likely have multi-picture contracts, committing them to return. If not, it might be hard to wrangle this trio.
Since Project X Mann has been blowing up, scoring roles in Beautiful Creatures, and Gary Sanchez's adaptation of the cult-loved novel King Dork. Arterton is attached to a handful of projects currently in pre-production, including the romantic comedy The Pre-Nup, and of course Renner is already tied to The Avengers, Bourne, and Mission: Impossible franchises. The way Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters ended left plenty of paths for a sequel to take. The trouble, it seems, will be when such a project can be pulled together.