There have been plenty of release delays this year so far, but perhaps the biggest one came as 2012 kicked off with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters from March of this year until January 2013. The reason for the fairy tale action comedy feature's push was because the studio believed Jeremy Renner was not yet a big enough star to properly bring people in for the film. With The Avengers certainly reaching worldwide audiences, Renner's name is only set to really be solidified with this week's The Bourne Legacy.
Now, it seems the film has finally been making rounds in test screenings and is certainly on track for its January release. But with a brush of horror thanks to writer/director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow), could the film go as far as Rated-R. Well thanks to various reports stemming from those screenings it seems Paramount wants to try out two different versions of the film before it actually hits theaters.
Coming across a thread on IMDB (via Collider), various members of the screenings have been blogging their reactions and experiences. One of the most interesting concepts is that those who attended a Rated-R screening discovered a PG-13 cut was shown the following week. So, which one will Paramount use?
Well, general reception of the film so far has been that the R version has been incredible compared to the more tame one. One poster said: "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."
While there is plenty of comedy, an additional commenter revealed that perhaps there's a reason behind the PG-13 version by saying “It was graphic and gory, I had to look away a couple of times because it was just gross." This shouldn't come as much of a surprise for those who saw Dead Snow by Wirkola, which still has a comedic beat to it but also plenty of zombie blood to spare.
There's no saying just which cut Paramount will go with, and the public hasn't seen a first impression beyond the only photo released for the film late last year. There has been no tone set thus far, so a comedy could easily surprise a good number of people. But with Renner obviously the main draw here, it seems the studio may have done the right thing in letting this one sit awhile.
The plot of the film deals with Hansel (Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) 15 years after the traumatic incident involving a gingerbread house. Since then, the siblings have evolved into vengeful bounty hunters dedicated to exterminating witches. Over the years, the siblings became expert hunters, famous for their proficiency at tracking and taking down their prey. Although still recovering from their ordeal, their work is relatively easy as for an unknown reason harmful spells and curses do not work well against them.
The Mayor of Augsburg recruits them to rid the town and nearby forests of an evil sorceress who is planning to sacrifice many local children at the witches' gathering during the upcoming 'Blood Moon' night in two days time. To make things worse, the duo also has to deal with the brutal Sheriff Berringer who has taken power in Augsburg and conducts a very indiscriminate witch-hunt of his own.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is set to hit theaters on January 11th, 2013.