"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" nabs $19M, No. 1 at box office

Gemma Arterton, left, and Jeremy Renner in a scene from "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters." Paramount Pictures

"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" hunted down $19 million in its opening weekend.

Paramount's action film update on the classic fairytale topped the box office, according to studio estimates Sunday. "Hansel and Gretel" stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as grown-up renditions of the title characters battling witches with crossbows.

Don Harris, Paramount's president of distribution, blamed icy weather on the East Coast for the film's not-so-bewitching debut.

"We got dinged a little bit with the weather on Friday, but overall we're pleased," said Harris, who added that "Hansel and Gretel" performed solidly internationally, earning $25 million overseas.

Other films opening over the weekend in the U.S. and Canada didn't fare as well. The crime thriller "Parker," starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez, debuted in fifth place with $7 million, while Relativity Media's raunchy ensemble comedy "Movie 43" opened in the seventh spot with $5 million.

Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian noted that it was the first time box-office grosses were down over last year after four up weekends.

Universal's supernatural horror film "Mama" starring Jessica Chastain dropped to second place with $12.8 million in its second weekend.

Several best-picture Academy Awards contenders continued to benefit from Oscar buzz, as well as the motion picture academy's decision to move up this year's nomination announcement, giving nominees more time in theaters between the Jan. 10 nominations unveiling and the Feb. 24 ceremony.

"Having an Oscar nomination is like holding a lottery ticket," said Dergarabedian. "It could pay off on Oscar night, but it's already paying big dividends now. All this time between the Oscar nominations and the telecast is prime time for these movies to capitalize on their higher profile."

"Silver Linings Playbook," which is up for eight Academy Awards, came in third place over the weekend with $10 million. The film starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence is in its 11th weekend of release and earned $3 million overseas.

"Zero Dark Thirty," the Osama bin Laden manhunt drama also starring best actress nominee Chastain, dropped to fourth place with $9.8 million. It's competing in five categories at the Academy Awards and nabbed $3.6 million internationally.

"Django Unchained," which is nominated for five Oscars, took in $5 million in sixth place, and the musical "Les Miserables," which is up for eight Academy Awards, earned $3.9 million in the 10th position. It was the fifth weekend for both films. "Django" topped the international chart with $47.9 million in 65 total territories.

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