At 75, Woody Allen shows no signs of slowing down. “I’ve been very lucky over the years to be able to sustain the career I’ve had,” he recently told Cannes. As I pointed out last weekend, Midnight In Paris is Woody Allen’s biggest hit in years, looking to exceed both Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and Match Point (2005), both of which grossed $23+M domestic at the box office. Now it’s official. Sony Pictures Classics announced today that Woody’s latest has become his highest-grossing film in North America in 25 years, having grossed $23,330,859 to date. “This is proving to be one of the big summer pictures, and we hope to hit more major milestones in the coming weeks,” Sony Pictures Classics’ Tom Bernard and Michael Barker emailed me. The pic is on target to surpass Hannah and Her Sisters (though not adjusted for inflation and higher ticket prices) to become Woody’s top earner ever.
This also has been the widest release of Allen’s career because it’s been riding strong buzz and solid word-of-mouth beginning with its well-received world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last month. Woody’s love letter to all things Parisian is a time-travelling comedy and his first full feature shot entirely in France. (Woody himself has said the film started basically as a deal to shoot a movie in Paris. Then he came up with the title but had no idea what the movie would be about…) It received an ovation inside the Palais.
Deadline’s awards columnist Pete Hammond even says the 21-time nominated and 3-time winner Woody could find himself again in the Original Screenplay Oscar race, where he was last nominated in 2005 for the dramatic Match Point. Given his script’s high culture bent — Owen Wilson plays a true romantic visiting Paris who finds he is transported each night at midnight to a golden age of the City of Lights, where his newfound friends include F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali, Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso — it’s obvious awards fodder. (“I didn’t have to research much,” Woody told Cannes. “I was a big fan of these people in my adolescence. They were icons, so the script was fairly easy to write.”) His last nomination for a comedy, though, was in 1998 for Deconstructing Harry, although Vicky Cristina Barcelona picked up the Musical/Comedy Best Picture Golden Globe and Penelope Cruz won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2008.
Nice to see Allen break his string of disappointments in the past decade that included last year’s Cannes player, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, Whatever Works, Scoop, Anything Else, and Hollywood Endings, the latter 2002 effort being his only other film to open Cannes. Wrote Hammond: “The reaction this year was decidedly warmer, with the phrase most often heard along the Croisette: ‘Woody is back in top form.’ ” This summer he ventures cinematically to Rome for the first time in a multi-segmented comedy in which he will also appear as an actor. Roberto Begnini and Penelope Cruz are among those in the cast.