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'Midnight in Paris' scores big at box office for Woody Allen

May 22, 2011 | 12:45 pm

"Midnight in Paris," packed with Angelenos and New Yorkers, scored the best limited-release opening ever for Woody Allen as it opened in the two cities.

Riding a wave of good reviews and publicity from the Cannes Film Festival, Allen's new film, starring Owen Wilson as a writer drawn to the City of Light, opened to $578,805, according to an estimate from distributor Sony Pictures Classics. That's a very strong performance considering the picture was playing at just six theaters, two in Los Angeles and four in New York. Despite Allen's New York roots and sensibility, the Landmark Theatre in West Los Angeles was the highest-grossing location for the picture.

Its per-theater average of $96,468 is not only the best ever for Allen, but also the best so far of 2011 and the 15th highest of all time, not accounting for ticket-price inflation, according to Box Office Mojo.

Allen's last movie, "You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger," in September 2010 also opened in six theaters, but it took in only $160,103.

The fantastic start demonstrates that the 75-year-old Allen can still pack auditoriums for movies with the right publicity and buzz. It remains to be seen whether "Midnight in Paris" will appeal to a broader audience as it expands to more cities, including San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., on Friday.

-- Ben Fritz


Review: "Midnight in Paris"

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Photo: Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Owen Wilson in "Midnight in Paris." Credit: Roger Arpajou / Sony Pictures Classics