Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’ Packs Theaters Channeling Madoff

Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” packed New York and Los Angeles theaters after Cate Blanchett scored glowing reviews for her role as the wife of a Bernie Madoff-like swindler.

The movie, which opened in six theaters this past weekend, took in $612,767, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The film averaged $102,128 per screen, leading the weekend’s other new releases on that basis.

“Blue Jasmine” will rival “Midnight in Paris” as Allen’s top-grossing film, according to Michael Barker, co-president and co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics, which distributed both movies. This coming weekend “Blue Jasmine” expands to 50 cities, including Washington and San Francisco, the setting for much of the film, he said.

“You make a name with reviews and standing-room only crowds on opening weekend,” Barker said in an interview. “Then you open the film wider and wider. That’s how you get a movie like this to its highest gross possible.”

“Blue Jasmine” is a re-imagining of Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire,” said Bloomberg critic Greg Evans, who gave the film four stars out of a possible five.

Blanchett plays Jasmine French, a Blanche Dubois stand-in who lands broke and broken on her sister’s doorstep in San Francisco after her Fifth Avenue lifestyle evaporates due to her crooked and philandering husband, played by Alec Baldwin.

Huge Openings

The film garnered an 85 percent positive rating out of 59 reviews aggregated by Rottentomatoes.com. That compares with 43 percent for Allen’s prior release, “To Rome with Love,” and 93 percent for “Midnight in Paris,” according to the website.

“Midnight in Paris” garnered $56.8 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters after its release on May 20, 2011, according to Hollywood.com Box Office. During its opening weekend, that movie appeared in six theaters and sold $600,000 in tickets, the researcher said.

“The last few Allen films all enjoyed huge openings per theater when they started out in a handful,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com’s box-office unit. “He has a tremendous following and every one of his releases is an event and generally leads to filled up theaters on opening weekend.”

With “Blue Jasmine,” Sony Pictures Classics, a unit of Tokyo-based Sony Corp., is replaying its distribution strategy for “Midnight in Paris,” which remained in theaters for nine months, Barker said.

“This movie will be in theaters a long, long time,” he said.

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