It appears as though Jeremy Renner’s schedule has indeed derailed production of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 2. Last we reported of the sequel brought news that the film’s director, Tommy Wirkola, had summited a script to Paramount Pictures and was awaiting the go-ahead from the studio to begin filming.
Now though, Wirkola has admitted to Fangoria that he has departed the project as director:
“I’ve just decided to not direct Hansel & Gretel 2. I have been lately attached to a few more things, it’s just a matter of time and priorities. I did Dead Snow 1, then Hansel & Gretel 1, and then Dead Snow 2. I want to do something a little bit different now and not just do sequels. I did write the script and I hope to be involved in it. But yeah, I won’t be directing it.”
While this is disappointing news for fans of the off-beat original, Wirkola’s announcement may not be as bad as it initially seems. For one, the filmmaker has stated his desire to still be involved in the gestating sequel, after penning the script with Gary Sanchez.
Moreover, Paramount will be eager to keep the wheels in motion. After all, despite being met with lowly reviews, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters soared to $220 million worldwide and was buoyed by a good reception in a variety of overseas markets — China, mostly. Of course, with Wirkola out of the picture, it seems less likely that Renner or indeed Gemma Arteton would be up for returning as the titular, badass siblings.
At this moment in time, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 2 is scheduled for a summer 2016 release, but should the studio fail to find a replacement within the next couple of months, we can expect the sequel to be placed on the shelf indefinitely.