-Runtime: 94 minutes

-Released on June 10, 2011

-Production Company: Gravier Productions, Mediapro, Pontchartrain Productions

-Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

-Rated PG-13

-Budget: $17 million [1]

-Gross: $56.8 million US [1], $94.3 million Foreign [2], $151.1 million total [2]

-Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

-The definitive poem in English on the subject of cultural nostalgia may be a short verse by Robert Browning called “Memorabilia.” It begins with a gasp of astonishment — “Ah, did you once see Shelley plain?” — and ends with a shrug: “Well I forget the rest.” Isn’t that always how it goes? The past seems so much more vivid, more substantial, than the present, and then it evaporates with the cold touch of reality. The good old days are so alluring because we were not around, however much we wish we were. [7]


-Woody Allen’s interest in giving audiences what they want has been on the wane since Small Time Crooks, but it returns with a vengeance in Midnight in Paris, a classic crowd-pleaser from a man increasingly prone to self-indulgence and alienating retreats into his own mind. Allen has formed many different relationships with his audience over the years — sometimes we’re his surrogate therapist, sometimes he’s a professor lecturing us on the ways of the world, sometimes we’re a testing ground for half-finished ideas — but this time he’s back in the role of entertainer, telling jokes and orchestrating a good time. This is not one of the movies he’s made for himself, this is a movie for us. [3]


-This message — about how reality is disappointing when viewed in comparison to fantasy — is similar to the one from The Purple Rose of Cairo, although there are a few differences. For one thing, Cairo was a lot more insistent — Allen was lecturing us on the nature of life, and he was not taking questions. This time the issue is raised more gently, as if Allen’s aware that, by this point, people are having a pretty good time and aren’t really in the mood for another bummer ending. [3]


-...Midnight in Paris becomes not so much an escape into fantasy as a seductive, oddly affecting reverie on the most timeless reality of all: that love may have less to do with physical attraction or even intellectual harmony than with the willingness to inhabit someone else’s dreams. Midnight in Paris may be a mere bagatelle, but it’s a beguiling one, brimming with sweetness and soul. [6]

"Midnight in Paris" Screening Companion



-It was Gil's journey through the past that helped him identify what was missing in his present and that gave him the courage to take steps to correct it. [12]


-In the film, Gil [Owen Wilson] appears to experience two distinct kinds of nostalgia. Gil's relationship with 1920s Paris represents historical nostalgia, or a yearning for a time in the past, which he hasn't actually experienced. It contrasts with personal nostalgia, which is tied to one's memories. While Gil's historical nostalgia is vividly portrayed in Allen's film, his personal nostalgia is more subtle, but it grounds Gil and ultimately makes it possible for him to return to the present. [12]


-Research indicates personal nostalgia may offer benefits, helping people maintain a constant sense of identity through changes and traumatic experiences. Historical nostalgia is different. [12]


-[Historical Nostalgia] is dissatisfaction with the present in a way where the dissatisfaction is great enough that someone actually prefers an era or time period from the past. Research indicates historical nostalgia is linked to a more cynical outlook and research indicates people prone to historical nostalgia tend to have a more negative view of their own past and find less satisfaction in their relationships. [12]


-Gil's own personal nostalgia is rooted in his past success as a screenwriter and his old dreams of becoming a great writer, like those he meets in the 1920s, including Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. [12]


-Nostalgia can be interpreted as a type of fantasy, and fantasy is generally thought of as a defense mechanism that allows someone to lose themselves and block out the bad. [Growth occurs by] acknowledging the past was not all golden and the future isn't so bad. [12]


-...'Escape' into a historical era hold a different appeal to different individuals. Who knows what Civil War re-enactors think/feel when they put on costumes? However, something comes alive for them that is impossible to experience in the present." [12]



-Allen employed a reverse approach in writing the screenplay for this film, by building the film's plot around a conceived movie title, 'Midnight in Paris'. Allen originally wrote the character Gil as an east coast intellectual, but he rethought it when he and casting director Juliet Taylor began considering Owen Wilson for the role. "I thought Owen would be charming and funny but my fear was that he was not so eastern at all in his persona," says Allen. Allen realized that making Gil a Californian would actually make the character richer, so he rewrote the part and submitted it to Wilson, who readily agreed to do it. Allen describes him as "a natural actor" [8]


-Owen Wilson says he first met and spoke to director Woody Allen when he arrived in France to begin filming. [1]


-Wilson assumed that Allen had seen him in something like Bottle Rocket or The Royal Tenenbaums, but it turns out Woody was a big fan of Wedding Crashers (which I guess also explains Rachel McAdams’ presence). [3]


-For Gil's difficult and demanding fiancée, Inez, Woody Allen says he had Rachel McAdams in mind as he was writing. And when he pitched her the part, he told her, "It would be much more interesting for you to play this kind of character. You don't want to go your whole life playing these beautiful girls. You want to play some bitchy parts. It's much more interesting for you." [1]


-Rachel McAdams and Michael Sheen met on the set of this movie and are now a couple with a child together. [3]


-Allen offered the role of Ernest Hemingway to Corey Stoll after seeing him in the play A View From a Bridge, which he had gone to see because it also starred his old pal Scarlett Johansson. [3]


-'Tom Hiddleston' received a letter from Woody Allen, along with 15 pages of the script, offering him the role of F. Scott Fitzgerald. "It was three sentences long," Hiddleston told Entertainment Weekly. "Dear Tom, I'm making a movie in Paris this summer. I attached some pages. I'd love for you to play the role of Scott." Hiddleston now has the letter framed and hanging up in his home office. [1]


-Carla Bruni, who plays the tour guide at the Rodin Museum, was also the First Lady of France at the time of filming (she has been married to then-President of France Nicholas Sarkozy since February 2008). [1]


-When casting for the movie, Woody Allen knew that he needed a french actress for Adriana so his first choice was Marion Cotillard. When Allen asked Cotillard to be a part of his movie, she was at home and talked with him for over an hour. When the conversation ended, Cotillard said: "Oh, my God, I've been talking to Woody Allen - that was Woody Allen's voice!" [1]


-When Woody Allen had enough budget to shoot the movie in 2006, he contacted his preferred cast but many were working on different projects and couldn't commit. When Owen Wilson's name came up for the leading role, Allen [heavily] rewrote the character to fit. [1]


-When offered their parts, the actors were not given the script or told the name of their character (even the ones playing famous historical figures). They were just given a handful of lines of dialogue. [3]


"The Past is not dead" or is it "The past is never dead"


-The William Faulkner estate later filed a lawsuit against Sony Pictures Classics for the film's bit of dialogue, "The past is not dead. Actually, it's not even past," a paraphrasing of an often-quoted line from Faulkner's 1950 book Requiem for a Nun ("The past is never dead. It's not even past."), claiming that the paraphrasing was an unlicensed use of the estate. Faulkner is directly credited in the dialogue when Gil claims to have met the writer at a dinner party (though Faulkner is never physically portrayed in the film). Julie Ahrens of the Fair Use Project at the Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society was quoted as saying in response to the charge, "The idea that one person can control the use of those particular words seems ridiculous to me. Any kind of literary allusion is ordinarily celebrated. This seems to squarely fall in that tradition." Sony's response stated that they consider the action "a frivolous lawsuit". In July 2013, a federal judge in Mississippi dismissed the lawsuit on fair use grounds. [8]

Marketing magic and box office gold


-Until now, the conventional wisdom held that Allen was in an irreversible career decline. The 75-year-old filmmaker has made 10 films since 2000, with only two of them taking in more than $10.5 million at the U.S. box office. After all, most of Allen's box-office business came from theaters in the 15 or 20 top latte-sipping markets in the country. [9]


-Sony Classics had some unique publicity issues with "Midnight in Paris": Allen was willing to do only a limited amount of publicity around the film's Cannes Film Festival debut in May. According to the Sony Classics team, the film's lead actress, Rachel McAdams, didn't do any press, and the film's leading man, Owen Wilson, was already committed to spending his media firepower on "Cars 2," a Pixar blockbuster that opened in late June, several weeks after Allen's film arrived in theaters. [9]


-Undaunted, the Sony Classics team decided to take a lemon and make lemonade. They obtained a list of reporters who were invited to the "Cars 2" junket and sent them press notes from "Midnight in Paris," encouraging them to ask Wilson questions about the Allen film during the Pixar media day. Wilson happily complied, answering queries about his character in "Paris" that provided material for a host of stories. Sony Classics also got a hold of Wilson's schedule of TV appearances to promote "Cars 2" on shows like "Late Show With David Letterman," then bought ad time for "Paris" spots on the nights when Wilson was a guest. [9]


-Midnight in Paris had a $10 million marketing budget. [9]


-TV spots were bought on Tony Awards, "CBS Sunday Morning," late-night talk shows, Weather Channel, Cooking Channel and local baseball games. [9]


-Woody Allen's first film to gross over $100 million worldwide. [1]


-The film remained in the top 10 box-office movies of the week for seven week. [9]


-And even more surprising, it's doing business everywhere, even in small towns like Kerrville, Texas, the hometown of Sony Pictures Classics Co-Chairman Michael Barker, where the film has been playing at the Rio 10 Cinema for the last month. [9]


-Midnight in Paris was a great success to be sure, but it’s often exaggerated. To put it in perspective a little bit: Manhattan was the 6th highest grossing movie of 1979, while Midnight in Paris was the 58th highest-grossing movie of 2011, behind Water for Elephants and the Justin Bieber concert movie. [3]


-Buzzfeed adjusted all of Woody's films for inflation and increased ticket prices and re-ranked his films by total gross: 1. Annie Hall $140 million, 2. Manhattan $132 million, 3. Hannah and her Sisters $88.2 million, 4. Everything You Wanted to Know $86.9 million, 5. Sleeper $85 million, 6. Love and Death $80.8 million, 7. Midnight in Paris $58.4 million. [10]


-Midnight in Paris ended with $56.8 million US [1], $94.3 million Foreign [2], $151.1 million total [2]. It was his highest grosses film in 25 years.



-Midnight in Paris did not, like Small Time Crooks or Husbands and Wives, get a big studio push. It received a very limited release at first, and slowly rolled out into more and more theatres based on its success. It was never destined to be a hit, it just became one by its own accord. [3]


-With four nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction and Best Original Screenplay), this picture is the most Oscar nominated Woody Allen film since Bullets Over Broadway (1994) which got seven Oscar nominations. [1]


-Production designers Anne Seibel and Hélène Dubreuil, were Oscar-nominated for their work on Midnight in Paris. Longtime designer Santo Loquasto retired after Whatever Works.


-Woody Allen won a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award for this film. The Oscar was Allen's fourth and the first he had won since Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) 25 years earlier. Allen received two Oscar nominations for this movie, the other being for Best Director, they being his 22nd and 23rd nominations. Additionally, this is his first film since Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) to earn a Best Picture nomination. [1]


-Since the Best Picture prize goes to a movie’s producers, that means that Allen’s sister/producer Letty Aronson is now also an Oscar nominee. [3]


-Woody Allen did not attend the 2012 Oscars Ceremony to receive the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award, continuing his trend of never appearing at the event. Allen is not a member of the Academy though he did appear at the 2002 Oscars ceremony for a tribute to New York films after the September 11 bombings. [1]



-The general idea for Midnight in Paris was born decades earlier, as evidenced by this old Woody Allen stand-up bit in which he imagines himself hanging out with Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein: [3]


The plot is [also] somewhat reminiscent of Allen's famous short story The Kugelmass Episode, in which a romantic character magically travels into the world of novels where he can be with his dream lovers. [1]


-Director Woody Allen attempted to shoot the film in Paris in 2006, but abandoned the project as it was too expensive. In this version, the lead would have been played byDavid Krumholtz . (As mentioned on the Knocked Up (2007) DVD extras) [1]


-Opening film at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, the second of Woody Allen's films to be given this honor following Hollywood Ending (2002) at the 2002 Festival. [1]


-This is the first Woody Allen film to go through a digital intermediate, instead of being color timed in the traditional photochemical way. According to Allen, its use here is a test to see if he likes it enough to use on his future films. [1]


-Most of Marion Cotillard’s costumes as Adriana were genuine vintage sourced from all over the world. Some pieces were over eighty years old and extremely fragile. [4]


-Gil is seemingly costumed to resemble director Woody Allen. Tweed jacket, casual shirt, natural waist trousers – all in shades of brown, green, grey and white; the comparison is unavoidable. [4]


-Hemingway and Gil visit Gertrude Stein, who is arguing with Picasso. In the background there is a portrait of her on the wall, painted by Picasso in 1906. [1]


-Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter Mariel co-starred with Woody Allen in Manhattan. [3]


-The flea market scenes were filmed during the week when the market is normally closed. [1]


-When Zelda Fitzgerald suggests to Gil that they leave the party and go to Bricktop's, she is referring to Chez Bricktop, the famous Paris nightclub run by Ada Bricktop Smith. Ada Smith appeared as herself in Woody Allen's Zelig (1983) as one of the modern-day "witnesses." [1]

-This film was one of a number of movies that were in competition at the 2012 Academy Awards that was related to France and French culture in some way. The films included The Artist (2011), Hugo (2011), Midnight in Paris (2011), The Adventures of Tintin (2011), Puss in Boots (2011) from the French fairy-tale by Charles Perrault, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) based on the novel by Pierre Boulle and A Cat in Paris (2010). Interestingly though, there was no French film nominated for the Best Foreign Film Academy Award (Oscar) in 2012. [1]


-The opening “Best of Paris” montage is followed by Allen’s trademark white-on-black credits. Instead of music, the credits are soundtracked with the movie’s first conversation between the as-of-yet-unseen protagonists. This approach is new for Allen, but the actual conversation couldn’t be more familiar.  [3]


-Darius Khondji was the Cinematographer. His work includes Se7en, Panic Room, Anything Else, Funny Games, To Rome with Love, and Woody's 2014 film, Magic in the Moonlight. He was born in Tehran, Iran. [1]


-Khondji, used primarily warm colors in the film's photography, filmed in flatter weather and employed limited camera movements, in attempts to draw little attention to itself. [8]


-Allen's directorial style placed more emphasis on the romantic and realistic elements of the film, than the fantasy elements. He states that he "was interested only in this romantic tale, and anything that contributed to it that was fairy tale was right for me. I didn't want to get into it. I only wanted to get into what bore down on his (Owen Wilson's) relationship with Marion." [8]


-Midnight in Paris was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics for distribution. It is the fourth film the two companies have co-produced, the others being Sweet and Lowdown, Whatever Works and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. [8]


-Woody Allen: "Of course I’m partial to New York because I was born there and grew up there, but if I didn’t live in New York, Paris is the place I would live." [11]


-The New York Times wrote an article entitled: "Decoding Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’" which goes into detail on the famous people that show up in Midnight in Paris. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/28/movies/midnight-in-paris-a-historical-view.html


-The Atlantic did a similar cheat sheet for Midnight in Paris: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/06/hemingway-said-what-a-cultural-cheat-sheet-for-midnight-in-paris/240198/

Critical Reception


-Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: This is Woody Allen's 41st film. He writes his films himself, and directs them with wit and grace. I consider him a treasure of the cinema. Some people take him for granted, although "Midnight in Paris" reportedly charmed even the jaded veterans of the Cannes press screenings. There is nothing to dislike about it. Either you connect with it or not. I'm wearying of movies that are for "everybody" — which means, nobody in particular. "Midnight in Paris" is for me, in particular, and that's just fine with moi.


-Ann Hornaday for the Washington Post wrote, "From its rapturous opening sequence, “Midnight in Paris” announces that Woody Allen has returned to at least one of his most beloved forms. The writer-director, whose work has skimmed screwball comedy, Bergman-esque drama, melancholic romance and misanthropic satire, comes back to his “Manhattan” roots here, as that opening number soaringly attests. Those who follow his lead will be richly rewarded. “Midnight in Paris” finds Allen in a larky, slightly tart and altogether bountiful mood, giving filmgoers a movie that, while unabashedly funny and playful, provides a profiterole or two for thought."


-Moira Macdonald for The Seattle Times wrote, "Nostalgia — that sudden, ardent pang of longing for something that isn't around anymore — can sneak up on us all of a sudden, when we hear a static-filled recording of old jazz music or remember the taste of a meal from a restaurant long gone. Woody Allen's movies have always celebrated nostalgia, but his charming new comedy, "Midnight in Paris," actually creates it: It makes us happily remember the movies we thought Allen wasn't able to make anymore, even while the filmmaker reaches into the past to add one more great one to the list."


Rick Groen for The Globe and Mail wrote, "In the 11th hour of his career, Midnight in Paris is precisely what we've come to expect from Woody Allen - another stop in a European capital, another nicely engineered little film more clever than substantial, mildly ruminative if hardly profound, and attractively cast with actors who, much like us, are delighted to venture out on a late date with the old pro. Certainly, his work here feels effortless, and that feather-light touch gives the picture its charm - modest but real."


-Ty Burr for The Boston Globe wrote,"'Midnight in Paris' has a crush on the past and it makes that crush palpable and great fun, with a famous dead artist in every patisserie and Django-esque guitar riffs goosing the story along. At the same time, this is “Zelig’’ without a spine, a work that wallows in the nostalgia it professes to puncture. For better and for worse, it’s as if Allen’s celebrated title sequence — that zippy 1920s jazz, that damned Windsor Light Condensed font — has finally taken over one of his movies."


-Peter Travers for Rolling Stone wrote, "What's fresh about Midnight in Paris is the way he identifies with Gil's idealization of the past, of the Paris that represented art and life at their fullest. Wilson is pitch-perfect at locating the right blend of humor and gravity that the role demands. Gil finds a kindred spirit and a muse in fashion designer Adriana (a superb Marion Cotillard). What's at risk is a lifeline back to the present. As a filmmaker, Allen has grappled with the temptations of repeating himself instead of forging a fresh path. You can feel that conflict here, and watching him work it out is exhilarating."


-Joe Morgenstern for the Wall Street Journal wrote, "For the filmmaker who brought these intertwined universes into being, the film represents new energy in a remarkable career. In recent years Mr. Allen's output has been variable; a succession of small, mostly agreeable entertainments punctuated by the disagreeable miscalculation of "Whatever Works" and the glorious madness of "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." What's new about "Midnight in Paris"—about its cheerful shallows along with its unstressed depths—is the lovely unseriousness of the whole venture. Just as Luis Buñuel did, Woody Allen is growing more playful as he gets older. His new movie truly is a place where the weeds have been pulled. Everything comes up roses."


-A.O. Scott for The New York Times wrote, ""Mr. Allen has often said that he does not want or expect his own work to survive, but as modest and lighthearted as “Midnight in Paris” is, it suggests otherwise: Not an ambition toward immortality so much as a willingness to leave something behind — a bit of memorabilia, or art, if you like that word better — that catches the attention and solicits the admiration of lonely wanderers in some future time."


-Every Woody Allen Movie website critic Trevor Gilks wrote, "It makes sense that Midnight In Paris would be a huge hit, as it is funny, high-spirited and has an interesting cast, a catchy premise and even a tidy, happy ending. What doesn’t make sense, at least to me, is why the rest of Allen’s movies are so unpopular. The seemingly all-things-to-everyone comic masterpiece Bullets Over Broadway garnered a fraction of its success, and for nearly a month straight Midnight in Paris was making more money each weekend than Sweet and Lowdown made in its entirety. These are discrepancies that neither I nor Woody Allen understand (as he said in Woody Allen: A Documentary, “I’ve never been able to understand why some of my movies are so much more popular than others. To me they’re all equally appealing, or unappealing”). Midnight In Paris doesn’t really feel like a personal movie for Allen. He seems preoccupied with craft and more concerned with making sure no one gets bored than with expounding his philosophies or probing his esoteric interests. Which is exactly what makes Midnight in Paris a good movie, but also what stops it from being a great one." [3]


-Quentin Tarantino, an avid Woody Allen fan, named Midnight in Paris as his favorite movie of

2011. [5]


-93% Rotten Tomatoes rating


Review Headlines


-"Past Perfect" - San Francisco Chronicle


-"Woody Allen's 'Midnight in Paris' a dreamy souffle" - Philadelphia Inquirer


-"'Midnight in Paris': a stroke of magic from Woody Allen" - Seattle Times


-"Midnight in Paris: Feathery light but still satisfying" - The Globe and Mail


-"Woody Allen returns to form with 'Midnight in Paris'" - St. Louis Post-Dispatch


-"Change of scenery helps reinvigorate Woody Allen" - Chicago Tribune


-"'Midnight in Paris' is a French kiss" - Star Tribune


-"We'll Always Have Allen's 'Paris'" - The Wall Street Journal


-"French goodie from Woody" - New York Post


-"‘Midnight in Paris’ Is A Renaissance For Woody" - New York Observer

[1] - imdb.com

[2] - http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=midnightinparis.htm

[3] - http://www.EveryWoodyAllenMovie.com

[4] - http://clothesonfilm.com/midnight-in-paris-nostalgia-fashion/24434/

[5] - http://www.totalfilm.com/news/quentin-tarantino-reveals-his-favourite-films-of-2011

[6] - http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/movies/midnight-in-paris,1180698.html

[7] - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/movies/midnight-in-paris-by-woody-allen-with-owen-wilson-review.html

[8] - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_in_Paris#cite_note-buzzinefilm1-16

[9] - http://seattletimes.com/html/movies/2015585312_moviemarketing13.html

[10] - http://www.buzzfeed.com/peterlauria/the-box-office-gross-of-every-woody-allen-movie-adjusted-for

[11] - http://www.wildaboutmovies.com/behind_the_scenes/MidnightInParis-WoodyAllenInterview.php

[12] - http://www.livescience.com/18478-midnight-paris-oscars-nostalgia.html