2013’s Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was just one of several adult-oriented fairy tale movies released around that time, with expectations so low they were practically nonexistent. Written and directed by Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow), and starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the siblings of lore who grew up to become witch terminators, the film became something of a surprise box-office hit. It broke even domestically, but tripled its $50 million budget worldwide.
As Hansel and Gretel crossed the $200 million box-office mark, two months after its January 2013 release, development on a sequel began. Tommy Wirkola was set to return, and a script for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 2 was reportedly completed in September of 2014, but Wirkola left the project shortly thereafter. News on the sequel subsequently went dark, until now.
Deadline reports that Hansel and Gretel 2 now has a director, with commercial helmer Bruno Aveillan signing on. There is no additional information on whether or not Tommy Wirkola’s script contributions will remain, or if Renner and Arterton will return (although we can presume as much, at least for now).
Bruno Aveillan is an internationally renowned filmmaker, known for experimental short art films as well as numerous commercials and short narrative branded content for companies like Chanel, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Samsung, Nintendo, and Coca-Cola. Aveillan is known for bringing an experimental, art-film aesthetic to spots for high profile brands. A short film he directed for Cartier won over 40 awards around the world. Hansel and Gretel 2, however, would be his first feature film.
Aveillan’s glittering CV is clearly something of a stark contrast to Hansel and Gretel, which was a raunchy, gleefully violent B-movie that nevertheless proved a surprisingly fun watch. That the original film worked at all is due largely to Wirkola’s distinctly weird sensibilities and refusal to stray from its exploitative, schlock-tastic tone.
Pairing someone with Aveillan’s prestigious resume with this kind of material seems like a strange choice, but he has a command over his visuals and is comfortable with extensive special effects (you can watch plenty of his films on his Vimeo page). It remains to be seen, though, if someone who has done such high-profile work can wrap his head around something like Hansel and Gretel, which is meant to be pure fun and not much else.
Stay tuned for more details on Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 2 as they become available.