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EXCLUSIVE: Gemma Arterton Lands Lead Role in Paramount's 'Hansel & Gretel'

Gemma Arterton
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Looks like Paramount will be packing for a hunting trip.

The studio is on the cusp of triggering production on the Gary Sanchez project Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, a dark action movie that picks up with the fairy tale siblings years after the traumatic childhood incident has turned them into bounty hunters. Jeremy Renner, who has been attached for some time, finally has his sister in James Bond babe Gemma Arterton.

Director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) is hoping to begin shooting the project in Berlin March 7.

Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds), Eva Green (Casino Royale) and Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) were all possibilities. But CAA-repped Arterton, who starred in Tamara Drewe, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Clash of the Titans in 2010, ultimately snagged the part.

Scheduling, as always, has been in an issue, since Renner is committed to shoot his role in Marvel’s The Avengers just eight weeks after he does Paramount’s Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Witch Hunters will thread the needle between them.

Paramount is also hustling H&G forward to try and get ahead of Fox’s adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which director Timur Bekmambetov will begin shooting in 3D this year for a June 22, 2012 release. The $69-million project, which Seth Grahame-Smith is adapting from his own book and Tim Burton is producing, concerns the fictional efforts of president Abraham Lincoln to keep the bloodsuckers from preying on slaves.

Paramount has nothing but huge projects running out the summer and into the fall/winter of 2011, so H&G could be hustled into a Halloween window slot. The studio already has its blockbuster low-budget Paranormal Activity franchise moving toward a threequel on Oct. 21, opposite Warner Bros.’ all-star Steven Soderbergh action thriller Contagion. Then Lionsgate has set the Sam Raimi-produced creeper Dibbuk Box for Oct. 28.

If not, a cold-weather January opening could be just the season to hunt audiences looking for some hard-R fairy tale violence.