A new Woody Allen film tends to come with lowered expectations these days. Knocking one out one a year, as he does, means there's rarely fevered excitement for the films: instead, mild curiosity as to who he's cast this time out, the inevitable scouring of reviews to see which critics have called it "a return to form," and keeping your fingers crossed that it's at least better than "Cassandra's Dream." So the surprise success of "Midnight In Paris" has become one of the biggest stories of the year: the film picked up rave reviews when it bowed at Cannes, and has now taken $50 million at the U.S. box office, making it Allen's biggest grosser ever -- not bad for what's essentially an upmarket, literary take on "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure."
The film's now gathering plenty of Oscar buzz, and it looks like Sony Pictures Classics are keen to wring every possible penny out of it, as the studio has announced that they're going for another wide release for the picture starting August 26th. The film's currently in 400 theaters, but the studio will add another 500-600 on that weekend, meaning it's likely to be on its widest release to date (the film hasn't yet played in more than 944 theaters). It'll also be matched by a new TV campaign, encouraging repeat audiences, and for people who liked the film to "take a friend to Paris."
As one of the most widely liked films of the year, it's probably a smart move, and one that will likely pay off, considering the lack of competition: aside from "Our Idiot Brother," which plays younger, late August/early September is pretty thin in terms of films for older audiences. The likelihood of it getting close to $100 million is pretty minimal, but we're sure it'll add a little more gold to the coffers, and more importantly, it will help to keep the film in the conversation as we move into the awards season -- with other contenders debuting at festivals around the same time, the picture will now remain visible into the fall.
One other film just got a release date, and it's about as far away on the spectrum as you could get from "Midnight in Paris." Variety reports that Fox have just set the third film in the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series, "Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" for a release date on August 3rd, 2012. The series, which has been paying for Steve Zahn's summer house the past couple of years, was a surprise success when the first film took $64 million in 2010, while this year's sequel made about $10 million less, but they're super cheap, so the studio are clearly keen to wring a bit more profit out of it yet.
The plot will revolve around the titular wimpy kid's summer vacation, and shooting starts next week. Strangely, the script is from Wes Anderson pal Wally Wolodarsky (Brendan in "The Darjeeling Limited"), who co-wrote with writing partner Maya Forbes, while David Bowers, who helmed this year's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," is returning. The picture will open against two big action movies, "Total Recall" and "The Bourne Legacy," so it's a pretty smart counter-programming move, allowing it to play throughout August.