Paramount and MGM's R-rated Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is leading the Friday box office after scoring a healthy $500,000 in Thursday night grosses.
The 3D film rolled out in north of 2,000 screens at 10 p.m. Thursday before expanding into a total of 3,372 locations on Friday.
Based on Thursday night and early Friday grosses, box office observers expect the action-comedy -- a more violent rendition of the classic fairy tale that stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the famous siblings -- to gross $24 million to $25 million for the weekend.
Hansel and Gretel, costing $50 million to produce, is already a crowd pleaser overseas, where it opened in Russia last weekend, grossing north of $8 million to place No. 1.
The movie is one of three R-rated titles opening in North America this weekend.
So far, Jason Statham with Jennifer Lopez action-thriller Parker and irreverent sketch comedy Movie 43 -- featuring one of the most ambitious ensemble casts in history -- appear to be in a relatively close race with holdovers Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook, with both pacing to gross in the $8 million to $10 million range for the weekend.
Directed by Taylor Hackford (Ray), Parker is being distributed domestically by FilmDistrict.
The roster of stars appearing in Movie 43, the brainchild of Peter Farrelly, includes Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Emma Stone, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler and Naomi Watts. A raft of filmmakers and talent directed the various vignettes, including Elizabeth Banks, Brett Ratner, Griffin Dunne and Bob Odenkirk.
Relativity Media spent a modest $6 million to make Movie 43 and says it was a creative risk worth taking.