Yes, Clinton Francis Barton, otherwise known as Hawkeye—and sometimes also referred to as the actor Jeremy Renner—stars in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, now streaming on Paramount Plus. This 2013 fantasy/horror film reimagines the class of fairy tale siblings—this time as adult bounty hunters. And who/ what do Hansel & Gretel hunt?
Witches—a worthy, scary target indeed.
Marvel veteran Jeremy Renner stars in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, now streaming on Paramount Plus.
When we first find the siblings (set initially to paper hundreds of years ago by another pair of siblings, the Brothers Grimm) their parents tragically abandon them in a dark forest. Then, having come across a candy house, they are captured by a witch—but manage to kill her and escape (phew). Thus begins their path as witch hunters.
Jeremy Renner and the brilliant Gemma Arterton, who some might know from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Clash of the Titans, play Hansel & Gretel, respectively—adult bounty hunters/witchfinders, terrifying witches the world over. Sent to idyllic Augburg in search of several children abducted by witches, the siblings encounter Muriel, the principal and creepy antagonist, portrayed by Famke Janssen (unforgettable as Xenia Onatopp in the James Bond movie, Goldeneye, and Jean Grey/Pheonix in the X-Men universe).
What does Muriel want? Nothing much—only to sacrifice the abducted children on the upcoming blood moon in order to prepare a potion immunizing witches to fire (thereby making them invincible).
But not if Hansel & Gretel can stop her!
Domestically, the film opened at the number one spot, earning over $19 million in its opening weekend, taking home nearly $55.7 million in North America when all was said and done.
Along the way, the brother and sister uncover dark secrets explaining their past, particularly the true nature of their parents and why they abandoned their children in the forest anyway. Also, Hansel battles his Achilles Heel, an illness developed from overeating candy in that scary witch’s house when he was a child, requiring regularly scheduled injections.
Produced by Paramount Pictures, MGM, and Gary Sanchez Productions, the film was shot on a budget nearing $50 million. It was directed by Tommy Wirkola and written by himself and Dante Harper. The director conceived of Hansel & Gretel upon finishing his cult, much-loved zombie classic, Dead Snow. Wirkola imagined a grimmer (no pun intended), action-heavy continuation of the Brothers Grimm tale.
Principal photography began in 2011, and the film was predominantly shot in Germany, including and especially the country’s atmospheric, haunting forests—all to capture an authentic, medieval European feel. Of note is the movie’s extensive use of practical/prosthetic and CGI special effects.
At the box office, sales were encouraging, as theatergoers both domestically and internationally turned out in numbers to see Hansel & Gretel battle with witches. Domestically, the film opened at the number one spot, earning over $19 million in its opening weekend, taking home nearly $55.7 million in North America when all was said and done.
While abroad, the witch-killing siblings found even more significant success, grossing over $170 million from international markets. All amounted to a worldwide total of more than $225 million. Given the production budget clocked in at around $50 million, those earnings are nothing to snicker at.
Critically, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters fared less well than it did at the box office, as reviews were decidedly mixed-to-negative. Hansel & Gretel do not exactly bowl over critics at review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, where the film’s rating is currently 16 percent, based on 146 reviews.
Metacritic assigned the movie a 23 out of 100 based on reviews from 25 critics. However, CinemaScore, which polled the audiences, turned up an average “B” grade for the film—a marked improvement on its critical scorecards.
In all likelihood, this disparity points to a film polarizing critics and audiences, where the former were less than enthused, while the latter found the modern update of Hansel & Gretel compelling. The film’s box office performance would underscore this difference. As detailed above, it drew audience attendance worldwide.
This worldwide popularity may have been due to star Jeremy Renner, whose rugged good looks and acting prowess coincided, over the years, with several major movie hits. His early films, S.W.A.T. and 28 Weeks Later, all made huge splashes globally, and it was 2009’s The Hurt Locker that earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, while his work in 2010’s The Town landed him yet another nomination, this time for Best Supporting Actor. Of course, beyond Hansel & Gretel, we all know and love him for Hawkeye.
Stream Hawkeye/Renner/Hansel now in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.