By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood August 27, 2013 at 11:21AM
"Blue Jasmine" moved into the top ten this weekend as Woody Allen's widest release ever. Taking in just under $4 million in 1,283 theaters and nearing the $14.5 million mark in only its fifth week, this Sony Pictures Classics release is now certain to be the biggest specialized film of the year thus far --with a projected $35 million total gross-- and is likely to become Allen's second-biggest success since "Crimes and Misdemeanors" in 1989.
Much was justifiably made about the enormous domestic and worldwide success for "Midnight in Paris," which in unadjusted numbers became the director's top-grossing film in the U.S. ever. Fact is that earlier in his career, his films were much more widely seen theatrically. When you adjust all of his films to 2013 ticket prices, "Midnight" actually had the seventh highest total. In fact, "Manhattan" and "Annie Hall" are his top grossers, and no Allen movie after "Hannah and Her Sisters" in 1986 has passed that total.
Check out the adjusted playing field in the Top Ten Chart below.
In his earlier days, Allen boasted a much wider audience, not just among older moviegoers. Over the past decades, he has lost much of the younger crowd, and his films have commanded more of a niche audience. And even then, though far more widely distributed than most specialized films, and always handled by top end distributors like Miramax/Weinstein and Dreamworks before recently settling in with SPC, seven of his films since 2000 failed to even gross $10 million. Even the popular "Vicki Cristina Barcelona" topped out at $23 million domestically.
Crowd-pleaser comedy "Midnight in Paris," filled with multiple big, commercial names and an early summer release that stayed on screen for many big months, reached a terrific $57 million, topping other recent specialized non-awards season releases "Moonrise Kingdom" and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." (This year only "Mud" and "The Place Beyond the Pines," possibly to be joined by "The Way, Way Back," have passed $20 million.)
"Blue Jasmine," a serious drama (with some humor) featuring an alienating lead character, is not what audiences in recent years have come to expect from Allen. Despite the acclaim for the film, particularly Oscar front-runner Cate Blanchett in the lead, it shouldn't be expected to easily reach the level "Midnight" achieved.
At this point, "Jasmine" looks positioned to gross around $35 million at some point (a re-release around Christmas could do the trick if it doesn't happen earlier, as well as a nomination playoff if the DVD is delayed), but even higher is certain.
If it reaches $35 million, it will have outgrossed two recent Best-Actress winning films: "The Reader" and "The Iron Lady" (both released by Weinstein). Released at the end of 2008 with a strong push for multiple nominations, "The Reader" reached $34 million, at its widest in 1,203 theaters. Nearly 75% of that gross came after the nominations, about a third after Kate Winslet's surprise win. And even with Meryl Streep's "The Iron Lady" win, that film only reached $30 million, again with most of the grosses coming in after the nomination and about $5 million more after the win (again, at its widest about 1,200 theaters).
"Blue Jasmine" looks poised to be in their range with its leader-of-the-pack actress on track for a possible win. Whatever happens, it should be regarded as a triumph for Cate Blanchett, Woody Allen and Sony Pictures Classics.