Witch-hunting 'Hansel & Gretel' wins box office

Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:21pm IST

Actress Gemma Arterton arrives at the premiere of the film ''Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters'' at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Patrick Fallon

Actress Gemma Arterton arrives at the premiere of the film ''Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters'' at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California January 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Patrick Fallon

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REUTERS - A grown-up "Hansel & Gretel" grabbed the weekend box office title, pulling in $19 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales with its reinvention of the classic fairy tale characters as fierce bounty hunters.

"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" knocked last weekend's winner, low-budget horror flick "Mama," into second place. "Mama" earned $12.8 million from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates, followed by "Silver Linings Playbook" with $10 million.

CIA drama "Zero Dark Thirty" came in fourth with $9.8 million.

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton star in "Hansel & Gretel" as crossbow-wielding adult siblings who travel the world to take out evil witches. MGM and Viacom Inc's (VIAB.O) Paramount Pictures produced the action comedy for about $50 million. Paramount had predicted opening weekend sales in the high-teens or low $20 million range.

Don Harris, Paramount's president of distribution, said the film performed well despite the very cold temperatures and snow that hit the eastern United States.

"We are pleased that we were on our number on a worldwide basis. It looks like we are on or exceeding our numbers, but we did get dinged with the weather on Friday," he said in an interview.

"The impact of the weather was certainly more than I had predicted."

"Mama" features Jessica Chastain as a woman forced to take care of two orphaned nieces who have been living in the woods. The $15 million production has now earned $48.6 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters through two weekends.

Chastain also stars in "Zero Dark Thirty" in an Oscar-nominated role as a dogged CIA agent searching for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The best picture nominee, which has sparked debate over depictions of torture, has grossed $69.9 million since its release in late December.

"Silver Linings Playbook," another Oscar contender, stars Bradley Cooper as a former mental patient trying to rebuild his life with the help of a young widow played by Jennifer Lawrence. Total sales for "Silver Linings" reached $69.46 million.

New crime thriller "Parker" finished in fifth place, taking in $7 million at domestic theaters. The film is based on a series of novels by Donald E. Westlake and stars Jason Statham as a thief seeking revenge against a crew that double-crossed him. Jennifer Lopez plays a woman who helps with his mission.

"Movie 43," a raunchy new comedy with an ensemble of Hollywood directors and stars, settled for seventh place. The film is a series of related short films about three kids scouring the Internet to find the world's most-banned movie. Stars making appearances include Huge Jackman, Seth MacFarlane, Kate Winslet and Dennis Quaid. Privately held Relativity Media produced the film for about $6 million.

"Mama" was distributed by Universal Studios, a division of Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O). Sony Corp's (6758.T) (SNE.N) movie studio released "Zero Dark Thirty." "Parker" was released by independent studio FilmDistrict. The Weinstein Co distributed "Silver Linings Playbook." (Editing by Bill Trott)

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