Box Office: 'Hansel & Gretel' Headed for No. 1, Eyeing $25 Million Weekend

 

Paramount and MGM's R-rated Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is leading the Friday box office after scoring a healthy $500,000 in Thursday night grosses.

The 3D film rolled out in north of 2,000 screens at 10 p.m. Thursday before expanding into a total of 3,372 locations Friday.

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Based on Thursday night and early Friday grosses, box-office observers expect the action-comedy -- a more violent rendition of the classic fairy tale that stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the famous siblings -- to gross $24 million to $25 million for the weekend.

Hansel & Gretel, costing $50 million to produce, is already a crowd-pleaser overseas. It debuted in Russia last weekend, grossing more than $8 million to place No. 1.

The movie is one of three R-rated titles opening in North America this weekend.

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So far, the Jason Statham-Jennifer Lopez action-thriller Parker and irreverent sketch comedy Movie 43 -- featuring one of the more ambitious ensemble casts in history -- appear to be in a relatively close race with best picture Oscar nominees Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook, with each pacing to gross in the $8 million to $10 million range for the weekend.

Directed by Taylor Hackford (Ray), Parker is being distributed domestically by FilmDistrict.

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The roster of stars appearing in Movie 43, a series of comic shorts and the brainchild of Peter Farrelly, includes Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Emma Stone, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Naomi Watts and many others. A raft of filmmakers and talent directed the various vignettes, including Elizabeth Banks, Brett Ratner, Griffin Dunne and Bob Odenkirk.

Relativity Media spent a modest $6 million to make Movie 43 and says it was a creative risk worth taking.

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