|“||Revenge is sweeter than candy.||”|
— film's tagline
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a 2013 American-German action-horror dark fantasy film with black comedy elements, co-written and directed by Norwegian filmmaker Tommy Wirkola and filmed in 3D. It is a continuation to the German folk fairy tale "Hänsel and Gretel", which was recorded by the Brothers Grimm and published in 1812. The film stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in the title roles of a brother-and-sister duo of professional witch hunters.
The siblings Hansel and Gretel are left alone in the woods by their father and captured by a dark witch in a candy house. However they kill the witch and escape from the spot. Years later, the orphans have become famous witch hunters. When eleven children go missing in a small village, the Mayor summons Hansel and Gretel to rescue them, and they save the red haired Mina from the local sheriff that wants to burn her accusing Mina of witchcraft. Soon they discover that the Blood Moon will approach in three days and the powerful dark witch Muriel is the responsible for the abduction of children. She intends to use the children together with a secret ingredient in a Sabbath to make the coven of witches protected against the fire. Meanwhile Hansel and Gretel disclose secrets about their parents.
PlotAbandoned by their father deep in a forest, young Hansel and Gretel enter a gingerbread house and are nabbed by the old witch who resides in it. The witch forces Hansel to continuously eat candy while making Gretel prepare the oven, but the siblings outsmart her and shove her into the oven's fire, incinerating her. Throughout the fifteen years after the incident, Hansel and Gretel become famed bounty hunters dedicated to mercilessly eradicating witches, slaying over six hundred of them. Their work is relatively easy because, for an unknown reason, they are immune to spells and curses. Hansel, however, is diabetic as a result of his ordeal and needs to take a regular shot of insulin every few hours. One day, in the town of Augsburg, Hansel and Gretel prevent Sheriff Berringer from executing Mina, a young woman accused of witchcraft. Mayor Englemann has hired the siblings to find and rescue several children abducted by witches. Berringer hires trackers for the same mission, hoping to show up the mayor for hiring Hansel and Gretel and to maintain his power in the town. However, all but one of the party are killed that night by the powerful grand witch Muriel, who sends the surviving member back to the town tavern to explode as a warning to the locals. Hansel and Gretel, with the help of the Mayor's deputy Jackson, capture Horned witch and interrogate her. They discover that the witches are preparing for the ritual of Blood Moon, which requires sacrificing six boys and six girls, each born on a separate month. Suddenly, Muriel, Redhead witch, and a troll named Edward, attack the town and abduct the targeted girl. Muriel makes Jackson shoot himself, while Gretel is knocked unconscious but is brought to safety by a teenager named Ben, their local fanboy and an aspiring witch hunter. Hansel grabs a fleeing witch by her broomstick, but falls and is lost in the forest.
The next morning, Hansel is found by Mina, who takes him to a spring to heal his wounds. Meanwhile, Gretel enters the forest to search for him, but she is ambushed by Berringer and his enforcers. After the men beat her up, she is rescued when Edward, the witches' troll servant, intervenes to kill the Sheriff and his goons and mend her injuries. When Gretel asks why he saved her, Edward answers that trolls serve witches and walks away. Hansel and Gretel reunite at an abandoned cabin, which they discover is not only their childhood home, but also a witch's lair. Muriel appears in front of them, telling them the truth of their past. She reveals that Hansel and Gretel's mother was a grand white witch named Adrianna, married to a farmer. On the night of the Blood Moon, the heart of a grand white witch is needed to create a potion that would make dark witches impervious to fire. As Adrianna was too powerful, Muriel targeted Gretel, who was revealed to be a grand white witch herself. Muriel spred a rumor across the village about Adrianna; to keep the siblings away from the lynch mob, their father left them in the forest before he was hanged, while their mother was burned at the stake. Following this revelation, the siblings battle Muriel before she stabs Hansel and abducts Gretel for the ceremony.
Hansel wakes up to the sight of Mina, who reveals herself to be a white witch. After Mina uses Adrianna's spellbook to bless the siblings' arsenal, Hansel, Mina, and Ben head to disrupt the Blood Moon Sabbath. Whilst Mina mows down many dark witches with a Gatling gun, Hansel squares off against Muriel's minions and frees the children, while Edward defies Muriel's orders and releases Gretel before Muriel throws him off the cliff. Muriel attempts to flee, but Ben shoots her off her broomstick. On her way to meet up with Hansel, Gretel finds Edward and uses her stun gun to defibrillate him back to life. Hansel, Ben, and Mina follow Muriel's trail to the old gingerbread house. During the confrontation, Ben is wounded and Muriel fatally stabs Mina. The siblings then engage in a grueling fight against Muriel inside the gingerbread house, until they behead her with a shovel. In the end, Hansel and Gretel collect the rest of their reward for rescuing the children before embarking on their next hunt, with Ben and Edward joining them.
- Jeremy Renner as Hansel
- Cedric Eich as young Hansel
- Gemma Arterton as Gretel
- Alea Sophia Boudodimos as young Gretel
- Famke Janssen as Muriel
- Peter Stormare as Sheriff Berringer
- Thomas Mann as Benjamin "Ben" Wosser
- Derek Mears as Edward
- Robin Atkin Downes as Edward (voice)
- Pihla Viitala as Mina
- Rainer Bock as Mayor Englemann
- Bjørn Sundquist as Jackson
- Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Horned witch
- Joanna Kulig as Redhead witch
- Zoë Bell as Tall witch
- Monique Ganderton as Candy witch
- Thomas Scharff as Hansel and Gretel's father
- Kathrin Kühnel as Adrianna
According to a 2009 interview with Wirkola, "it's an action-adventure horror movie that finds Hansel and Gretel fifteen years after their first witch incident and they've grown up to become merciless witch hunters. Blood and gore and action, all the stuff that I love. It's definitely an R-rated movie, the first draft has a lot of blood and guts. First and foremost, it's an action movie, I think, with horror elements. And of course some dark humor as well. But the action and horror are the most import feelings I want." According to Adam McKay in 2010, "the idea is, they’ve grown up and they hunt witches. It’s a hybrid sort of old-timey feeling, yet there’s pump-action shotguns. Modern technology but in an old style. We heard it and we were just like, ‘That’s a freakin’ franchise! You could make three of those!'" McKey added, "the witches are awesome in it. Nasty, mean witches, and we'll get some great actresses for them as well."
Filming began in March 2011 and is taking place in Potsdam Babelsberg and in the city of Braunschweig, Germany. On December 3, 2011, Entertainment Weekly released the first publicity photo of the film. Initially slated for a March 2, 2012 release, Paramount Pictures pushed it to a ten month delay for January 11, 2013. The first trailer for the film was released on September 5, 2012. The film was then delayed by two weeks to January 25, 2013 to avoid competition with Gangster Squad.
Main article: Witch Hunters Costumes
Main article: Concept Art
- Babelsberg, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany
- Berlin, Germany
- Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany
- Studio Babelsberg, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany
On March 19, 2013, Paramount announced that a sequel to the film is in the works due to overseas box office numbers. Witch Hunters producers Ferrell, McKay, Messick, and Flynn were reported to be expected to return. In June 2013, McKay officially confirmed his involvement and said that "everyone feels like as good as the first one is, we can really jack it up a level with the second one. So, fingers crossed everyone will come back" (including Renner and Arterton).
McKay suggested that Paramount might insist harder to make the film rated PG-13 this time. Talking about Wirkola's "pretty insane" ideas for the second film, McKay said this could be one of those instances where the sequel does go further than the first one." Regarding the storyline, he offered one hint: "Think of different kinds of witchcraft."
Initially slated for a March 2, 2012 release, the film was pushed by Paramount Pictures to a ten-month delay for January 11, 2013. Co-producer Kevin Messick later said: "We’d finished it but we were still discussing adding a coda scene, which we were able to shoot. And there was always the consideration that Jeremy [Renner] had Avengers and Bourne coming out. So the studio made a wise strategic move in finding a good release date for us." Wirkola said that "the main reason is because they wanted to wait on Jeremy. He was cast before Mission: Impossible, Bourne and The Avengers. They wanted to wait until after those. I was, of course, disappointed then, but actually it helped because we came in under budget" and so the delay enabled him to re-add and shoot an additional scene that is set in the desert and which was cut from his original screenplay. The first trailer for the film was released on September 5, 2012.
The film was again delayed by two weeks to January 25, 2013 in the United States and Canada. A statement from Paramount suggested that the film was delayed to enable it to be released in IMAX 3D format. In early January 2013, illegal copies of the film were discovered in a major anti-piracy bust. Prior to its North American premiere, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was first released in Russia on January 17, followed by the releases in Indonesia and the Philippines on January 23, and in several nations across Latin America and South-East Asia on January 24. On the same day (January 25) it was also released in more countries of Latin America, with the other parts of the world following between January 31 and mid-March of 2013. The film was also released in the motion effects theaters using 4DX and D-Box motion enhancement technologies. In Mexico, it was the first feature film to be shown in Cinemex's new X4D Motion EFX theater format, provided by MediaMation.
The "extreme version" home release was announced by Wirkola to feature more comedy and "more guts and blood and gore, stuff that didn't make the [theatrical] cut. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters was released by Paramount Home Media Distribution on June 11 in its original theatrical cut and a longer, unrated cut "with never-before-seen footage that was too intense for theaters". It is available in the versions: either a double Blu-ray edition (the 1080p AVC video and the 5-channel Dolby TrueHD audio) or a triple Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD limited edition, both coming with an UltraViolet digital copy and three behind-the-scenes special features: "Reinventing Hansel & Gretel" (15:41m), "The Witching Hours" (9:01m) and "Meet Edward the Troll" (5:25m). In addition, just the theatrical cut of the film will be made available on a single DVD. The unrated version is 10 minutes longer (97 minutes long).
- When Hansel and Gretel are in front of the candy house, he eats colorful candy and she eats the white icicle. However when they go inside both of their mouths are colored.
- When Hansel and Gretel first arrive at the candy witch's lair as children, Gretel pulls off the end of one of the icing icicles to eat it. In the next few shots, the icicle is shown as intact when it should have a blunted end.
- When Mina is tending to Hansel's wounds next to the lake his arm changes positions between shots - from resting on his knee, then his thigh, then his knee again.
- At the beginning of the movie when Hansel and Gretel are fighting the witch in the woods Hansel grabs the witch and slams her down on a log behind him. When the witch starts to back away from Hansel the log is in two parts with about 2 to 3 feet between pieces. In the very next shot the log pieces are almost touching with a thin gap. As Gretel locks the witch in place in the air the log is back to a wide gap of 2 to 3 feet.
- When Ben shoots Muriel, he tells Hansel and Mina, "I got her! I shot Muriel!" But he has never seen Muriel before and no one besides Gretel (who was told by Edward) knows that the grand witch's name is Muriel. Hansel does not know the grand witch's name either, but acts like he does.
- When Muriel meets Hansel and Gretel at their parents' home and says, "You finally found your way home, after all these years," the audio is not synchronized with her lip movements.
- When Gretel approaches the gingerbread house in search of Hansel, the body of Mina should be seen just to the left of the door but it is missing.
- Not screened in advance for critics.
- In the movie, Hansel is diabetic as a result of his experience in the gingerbread house as a child. In the original script, Gretel was also supposed to have an eating disorder as a result of her childhood trauma, but it was cut from the final version.
- When Ben is taking care of Gretel he brings her porridge and says that it's "not too hot, not too cold, but just right" thus making reference to Goldilocks and the Three Bears, another Tale from the Brothers Grimm.
- Gemma Arterton suffered an injury when she sprained her ankle while running through the forest.