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Unrated ‘Hansel & Gretel’ Deemed Extreme

6 Jun, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

GLENDALE, Calif. — You can get away with so much more on Blu-ray Disc. Just ask Tommy Wirkola.

The director of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters was loath to leave some of the more gory scenes from the film on the cutting room floor, “but some of those scenes were deemed a little extreme by people,” he lamented.

Enter the June 11 Blu-ray release from Paramount Home Media Distribution, with an unrated version of the film ($200 million-plus at the global box office) and a slew of bonus features.

“I’m glad people are getting to see the craziness [we] put in it,” Wirkola said. “People are shocked by it, which is a good thing.”

Wirkola praised the digital-first strategy for his film (Paramount offered Hansel as a digital download May 21), and said he was excited that the studio chose to offer a 3D Blu-ray version (a single-disc DVD SKU will also be available).

While he admitted his first time working with 3D was “a pain.”

“We felt this film could benefit from the format,” Wirkola said. “We felt we could have fun with [3D]. We have a lot of things coming at you. With our film, with the tone we have, we could basically do what we wanted with 3D, which was liberating.”

Wirkola said the bonus features include “a lot of things for the geeks,” including an extensive look at one of the more popular creatures in the film, Edward the Troll.

Actor Derek Mears was in the giant troll suit, which also required three robotic operators to manage.

“Working in the suit itself, it really is a team effort,” Mears said. “It’s like you’re a deep sea diver, an old-timey deep sea diver. You’re not going to go by yourself to go down; you’ve got everyone working together to create this vision.

“It’s a throwback to practical effects,” he added. “They easily could have just CG’d the character.”

The troll was just one of the creatures created by makeup and creature effects studio Spectral Motion. After working up creature designs for both “Hellboy” movies, Fantastic Four and X-Men: First Class, among others, Hansel & Gretel provided unique challenges for the company, according to founder Mike Elizalde.

His team got to work early on with the director and producer to produce the creature designs, which isn’t “something that usually happens,” Elizalde said.

“Typically, we get a script, receive designs from production where they’ve already fleshed things out. [With Hansel & Gretel] we got to create the characters from the ground up,” he said.

Elizalde hopes the Blu-ray doesn’t show any mistakes with the makeup or costumes.

‘”Especially with [high-def] these days, it’s not forgiving. Everything has to be perfect,” he said.

Paramount has a sequel in development, and everyone involved with the first film wouldn’t mind being involved with the second.

“We just started talking about it,” Wirkola said. “It’s really early. You don’t want to do the same thing over again. You want to go new places, new creatures.”

To see images from a recent press day in which journalists became "witchified" and took a tour of the studio behind Hansel & Gretel's makeup effects, click here.

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