When the first official image from Paramount Pictures' Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters was unveiled, the plan was (reportedly) to release an official trailer for the R-Rated fairy tale spinoff about a week later.
Obviously, that didn't happen and now we have a better idea of why: Paramount has decided to hold off on releasing the fantastical Gemma Arterton-Jeremy Renner teamup in Spring of 2012. Instead, the studio has selected to push the film back all the way to January 11th, 2013, for (official) reasons that have yet to be revealed.
Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters was originally slated to open on March 2nd, 2012, where it would have faced off against the bubbly kid-friendly adaptation of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax and the raunchy teen comedy/faux documentary Project X. Considering that Witch Hunters is a bloody, tongue-in-cheek supernatural action romp said to be in the vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, audience overlap was not exactly an issue and wouldn't explain the release date change-up.
There are probably two main factors that affected Paramount's decision:
- Renner is currently making headlines as one of the stars of the hit Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, will show up in The Avengers early this summer, and he's the lead in this year's The Bourne Legacy. Hence, studio heads might've been concerned that moviegoers would suffer from "Renner overload" in 2012 and choose to pass on Witch Hunters - so they wouldn't be tired of seeing the actor before his big blockbuster projects arrive.
- While the Witch Hunters cast includes fan-favorites like Arterton, Renner, Peter Stormare (Prison Break), Famke Janssen (X-Men) and stunt double/actress Zoe Bell (Kill Bill, Death Proof), neither any of those stars nor co-writer/director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) are really-bankable names right now. So, the film stands a better chance of finding an audience during the slow-moviegoing weeks of January.
There are also several similarities between Witch Hunters and this month's Underworld Awakening, seeing how both are stylized supernatural R-Rated 3D action titles. The latter should do all right by itself at the box office in January; so, by that logic, there's good reason to think the former could follow suit - which, again, would explain the move.
On the other hand: significant release date delays can often happen when studio heads know they have a dud on their hands. Best to hold off and see some actual footage from Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters before jumping to that sort of conclusion, but it's certainly a concern - in part, because movies with an inherently pulpy design like this one can be very hit-or-miss...
Source: Paramount Pictures