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'Midnight in Paris' enjoying a bright summer

MidnightParis1

Woody Allen has his biggest hit in a quarter-century. Now the question is how much further it can go.

"Midnight in Paris" has in the last week surpassed all of the 75-year-old filmmaker's releases since 1986 at the box office, selling a total of $28.6 million worth of tickets, including $4.5 million this weekend. That is Allen's highest mark since 1986's "Hannah and Her Sisters," surpassing such recent hits as 2008's "Vicky Christina Barcelona" and 2005's "Match Point," both of which took in $23.2 million.

More typical for Allen recently has been soft performers such as 2010's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger" ($3.3 million) and 2009's "Whatever Works" ($5.3 million).

"Paris," which stars Owen Wilson as a depressed screenwriter riding a wave of nostalgia in the titular city, has ridden extraordinarily strong word-of-mouth since its May 20 opening. Ticket sales declined a minuscule 8% this weekend after dropping just 16% the previous weekend.

Tom Bernard, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, said the art house film distributor started off selling the movie to older audiences who rarely go to the movies but has since used Wilson to market to younger moviegoers.

With a small expansion in theater count planned for next weekend, "Midnight in Paris" has a good shot of soon beating the $40.1 million total of "Hannah" to become Allen's all-time highest performer, not accounting for ticket price inflation.

It's also on the verge of surpassing "Capote" to become SPC's second-highest grossing movie of all time, behind only the 2000 blockbuster "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" that collected $128.1 million.

"This is going to be like those sophisticated dramas and comedies in the 1970s and '80s that would play all summer long," said Bernard. "It's the perfect alternative to Hollywood's mindless comedies and action movies."

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-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Woody Allen, right, on the set of "Midnight in Paris" with Marion Cotillard, left, Allison Pill and Owen Wilson. Credit: Roger Aparjou / Sony Pictures Classics

 
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