Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters didn’t really make many waves upon its domestic release in early 2013. Although it topped the North American box office on its opening weekend, its popularity declined quickly, and it only grossed $55 million. However, overseas, the film boomed, taking $170 million - and based on this success, a sequel was ordered. It is often viewed as a really underrated or under-appreciated film - and while the critics might not have been wowed, there is certainly a place out there for more Hansel and Gretel adventures to be told.
Plans for the sequel (simply known as Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters 2) have not been without their problems. Aiming to have the second instalment in theaters in 2016, Hansel and Gretel writer/ director Tommy Wikola announced he had handed the first draft of the script over to Paramount executives back in September 2014. Just days later, he announced he would not return to direct the sequel, and everything went quiet - until Bruno Aveillan was confirmed to take over the helm, making his feature film directorial debut.
Now it seems as though it’s all change again, with Deadline reporting that plans for a big screen sequel have been scrapped in favor of turning Hansel and Gretel’s further witch hunting adventures into a cable TV show. Airing on Paramount TV, Gary Sanchez (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters' producer) is attached to produce the television series, with MGM also becoming a partner in the show. There is no word on whether Aveillan will still be directing, or if stars Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner will return - though the latter seems unlikely, especially given Renner’s Marvel and Mission: Impossible ties.
It might seem like a strange jump to have made, but it is perhaps one that will become ever more commonplace. Paramount recently announced plans to move the Jack Ryan franchise to TV - following the under-performance of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - in a show sold to Amazon. Meanwhile, both Fox and CBS are currently airing sequel TV series for the films Minority Report and Limitless, respectively, though the former is already in trouble (with its series order having been reduced from 13 episodes to 10).
As recently as September of this year, unused artwork for the Hansel and Gretel sequel surfaced, seeming to hint at a possible title of Hansel and Gretel: Death’s Messengers. Again, it is now unclear what parts, if any, of this could be used in a TV series.
It’s hard not to think that this all boils down to money. With the overseas success of the original film, Paramount know that by turning any sequel plans into an episodic series, it prolongs the focus and hype surrounding the franchise for that much longer - having a knock on effect in terms of merchandise, marketing and the like. The question is; will the Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters TV show be good enough for fans to keep tuning in?
We'll bring you more details on the future of the Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters franchise when we have them.