Over a nearly 50-year career making movies, Woody Allen has developed a small but fiercely devoted cadre of fans, those filmgoers who have stuck by the filmgoer through the heights of “Annie Hall” to the dregs of “Melinda and Melinda.”
But to this day, Allen said in an interview with The Washington Post last week, he can’t easily identify that sub-genus of filmgoers known as Woody Allen Fans. “I don’t know who they are,” Allen said of his most loyal followers. “Because they don’t seem to be any discernible group. They’re not older people, but they’re not young people. They’re not college kids. They’re not out-of-towners. I really don’t know who they are. I know this: There are not many of them.” He laughed ruefully. “So, when a picture like ‘Midnight in Paris’ does so well, you’re really saying did so well for me.”
Allen professed not to know why, among the dozens of films he’s made in recent years, “Midnight in Paris” did so well; if anything, he said, he lowered his expectations for the film, which was set largely in 1920s Paris, because younger viewers wouldn’t be familiar with a cast of characters that included Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali and Zelda Fitzgerald.
“It’s so in the lap of the gods,” he said of a film’s success, “so out of your hands. You can make a good movie that they don’t come to, or a mediocre movie that they do come to. ... You know, they wanted to see ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ a lot, but not as much as ‘Midnight in Paris.’ They wanted to see ‘Match Point’ a lot, but not as much. ... Years ago, I made a comedy called ‘Hollywood Ending’ and nobody came. I thought it was such a funny idea, that I was psychosomatically blind and I had to fake it and direct a film and not let anybody know I was blind. I thought I played it well and everyone in it was good — Debra Messing and Tea Leoni — but nobody wanted to see it. I don’t know why.”