UPDATE: Does this mean that Paris is the most profitable Woody Allen film of all time? No. As some commenters have pointed out, Hannah and Her Sisters cost far less against its ultimate revenues, and out-performed this one, too, if you factor in inflation. Theatrically-oriented Sony Pictures Classics thanked exhibitors that played the film in Variety, below.
Why did this one strike a nerve with a wider audience? Well, it's escapist, magical summer fun, with a happy romantic ending. Owen Wilson, a robust comedy star, makes the best Woody surrogate the filmmaker has had since John Cusack (Bullets Over Broadway) and delivers the richest, most nuanced performance of his career. "He was a tremendous sell," says Bernard.
Is Wilson's role Oscar-worthy? I won't go that far, but SPC plans to hang in theaters as long as possible and then chase Oscar voters later; they'll release the DVD when they see fit. With the Academy's new best picture nomination process (designed to be inclusive of audience favorites), it's looking good for a best picture nod. Allen should certainly land original screenplay and directing nominations.
The well-reviewed movie (David Thomson aside) is different not only from other Allen films, but anything else in the marketplace. While it wittily mines cliches about Americans in Paris, it makes literate moviegoers feel smart. It boasts a universal nostalgia theme, as well as falling inside a reliable genre: time travel. And of course, reminds Bernard: "everyone likes Paris."