For evidence that January is a dumping ground for bad product, look no further than this weekend: as of mid-afternoon on Thursday, the three new nationwide releases had a grand total of seven reviews up on Rotten Tomatoes, all of which were negative. Still, in 3,372 locations—around 2,900 of which will play the movie in 3D—Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters appears poised to open high enough to take first place from Mama. Meanwhile, Movie 43 and Parker will both likely debut to less than $10 million. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was originally supposed to be released last March, but was pushed back to January 2013 for undisclosed reasons. What this did accomplish, at least, was to allow Jeremy Renner to become a more recognizable star following The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy, which combined to gross nearly $1.8 billion worldwide. Unfortunately, Renner still isn't a proven box office draw, so it's unlikely he'll move the needle significantly for Hansel and Gretel.
Instead, the main factor here is whether or not audiences are intrigued by the premise, which finds the titular fairy tale characters battling supernatural foes in their adult lives. Past revisionist fantasy actioners have seen modest grosses: The Brothers Grimm opened to $15.1 million in 2005, while Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter scored $16.3 million last Summer. Paramount is expecting Hansel to wind up in the high-teens or low-20s, though, which is a bit higher. Movie 43 is made up of a series of unrelated shorts featuring a wealth of major stars including Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Emma Stone, Richard Gere and many more. The randomness of the comedy resembles that of a spoof movie, which suggests it will open with at least $12 million. Unfortunately, spoof movies at least have some unifying theme, whereas Movie 43 has nothing tying the various jokes together. Commercials have poked fun at how random it is—some have Seth MacFarlane describing it as "a cross between Family Guy and Schindler's List"—but self-awareness only goes so far. Distributor Relativity Media is currently expecting around $8 or $9 million for the weekend. Parker stars Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez in a crime caper, but lazy marketing is pitching it as a standard Statham action movie. That would be fine if it weren't for the fact that Statham's movies have been consistently disappointing at the box office for the past few years: 2011's Killer Elite opened to just $9.4 million, while last April's Safe bombed with $7.9 million. Distributor FilmDistrict isn't expecting Parker to beat this trend, and is instead angling for mid-to-high single digits this weekend. Forecast (Jan. 25-27) 1. Hansel and Gretel - $21.9 million 2. Mama - $13.3 million (-53%) 3. Zero Dark Thirty - $9.8 million (-38%) 4. Movie 43 - $8.9 million 5. Silver Linings - $8.2 million (-24%) 6. Parker - $7.6 million Bar for Success Hansel and Gretel will do most of its business overseas, so if it matches Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter's $16.3 million domestic start it should get a pass. Parker needs to get to the recent Statham high (The Mechanic's $11.4 million on the same weekend in 2011) to not be considered a bomb, while anything over $10 million is okay for Movie 43.