Collider is reporting that Tommy Wirkola’s first US feature Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is currently being tested by audiences in two different versions. The film, which stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the titular siblings, is set to open in theaters on January 11th, 2013. Right now, Paramount Pictures, the distributor of the film, is currently showing the film to test audiences, and reports have it that there is a PG-13 version being tested, as well as an R-rated version.
For those unfamiliar with his work, Tommy Wirkola’s previous films Kill Buljo (a Kill Bill parody) and Dead Snow (about zombie Nazis) featured tons of wild action, gore, bloodshed, and off-kilter humor. The $60 million Hansel and Gretel film follows the siblings 15 years after the gingerbread house incident, where the two have become excellent witch hunters and they are out to hunt and kill witches for bounty money. The film is a Gary Sanchez Production, getting some financial help from the company run by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
The following quotes come from people that have seen the film, courtesy of the IMDB forums:
“I can’t say a lot because of agreements with the company, Overall I will say that I really enjoyed this one. It was different, violent, pretty funny- Sort of like Drive Angry 3D or Scott Pilgrim humor, and I thought everyone did well. It kind of felt like they nailed the ancient humor the way ‘Your Highness’ was supposed too but didn’t. I went to the R-Rated version, I haven’t seen an PG-13 version and I didn’t even think they were cutting it up to be that, I hope they go back to the R Version because that was one hell of a fun movie. A PG-13 version would just ruin everything.”
“The first one was definitely the Rated R version. Good humor, good action, great fight scenes, awesome dynamic between Renner and Arterton. I loved it so much the first time, I made a group of friends go to the second screening the next week. But the next week, they had heavily edited it and turned it into a PG-13 film. If they keep it R, it’s gonna be great. Silly, but actiony and fun. If it’s PG13, it won’t be worth it. Let’s hope it’s an R rating.”
“It was graphic and gory, I had to look away a couple of times because it was just gross.”
The consensus seems to be that the film works best as a gory R-rated action/horror/comedy, and since that is where Wirkola’s previous films have fallen before, I am inclined to agree without having seen the film. Keep in mind, however, that people on the IMDB forums probably are the typical audience for this type of film, it’s still tough to tell what the rest of the test audiences thought of the film, and their input may sway Paramount toward the PG-13 cut if they think they can make more at the box office with it. As we creep closer to release date (and a trailer) hopefully we’ll learn more about the fate of the film. At least we know there will be an uncut Blu-Ray release at some point, no matter the outcome of the test screenings.