This is no children's tale. The first trailer for Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was released today and looks to be a unique, R-rated take on the classic fairy tale. The film version of the age-old Hansel and Gretel fairy tale picks up 15 years after siblings Hansel (played by The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy and The Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner, 41) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton, 26, of Quantum of Solace, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Tamara Drewe and Clash of the Titans) escape the nasty witch's (X-Men and Taken's Famke Janssen, 46) gingerbread house — an experience that turned them into bounty hunters who seek out and kill evil witches. Hansel and Gretel use firearms, crossbows and other more creative means of destruction to achieve their ends. The trailer even shows one instance of the duo stringing rope up high in the trees to decapitate a witch flying on her broom. The film takes place primarily in the German town of Augsburg, where the mayor, portrayed by Fargo's creepy Peter Stormare, 59, enlists Hansel and Gretel to help rid the town of an evil sorceress who has been kidnapping children with the plans to kill them in a mass sacrifice.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was originally set to premiere on March 2, 2012, but its release date was moved back to January 11, 2013 to capitalize on Renner’s growing global fame, according to Deadline. In the past year Renner has starred in three major blockbusters: Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy, of which the latter two were released after March 2.

This first trailer looks eerily reminiscent of the visual style of Snow White and the Huntsman, another fresh, dark take on an old fairy tale relying on tinted colors and CGI monsters. We see Renner and Arterton firing heavy guns at menacing witches who look like a cross between the monsters in Hellboy and the vampires in Van Helsing. The end of the trailer also promises something bigger in store, teasing a scene of a growling herd behind rumbling trees as Arterton as Gretel exclaims, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Aside from the violence and horror, fans should expect humor from Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. It is co-produced by Gary Sanchez Productions, operated by comedic superpowers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. The production company is responsible for such popular comedies as Step Brothers, The Other Guys and The Campaign. Director Tommy Wirkola, 34, is a bit of an unknown, but he has a flair for the dark comedy as evidenced by his two previous movies: Dead Snow (2009), a Norwegian zombie-comedy, and Kill Buljo, a Norwegian parody of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.

Working on a $60 million budget, it is hard to predict how Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will fare at the box office. While Snow White and the Huntsman's retelling led to tremendous box office success — the PG-13 flick pulled in nearly $400 million worldwide in box office grosses — R-rated features typically have a tougher time. Perhaps this will be the truest test of whether Renner is as bankable a movie star as people imagine him.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will hit theaters on January 11, 2013. —Hal Sundt

Watch the trailer for the new retelling of Hansel and Gretel here:


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