Can the buzz behind Vicky Cristina Barcelona help bring a mainstream audience to Woody Allen's latest effort?

'Vicky' Mystique

on August 08, 2008 by Phil Contrino

By Phil Contrino

While Woody Allen has worked very consistently over the last couple of decades, he no longer has the same level of mainstream popularity he enjoyed during his late-70's heyday which produced classics such as Annie Hall and Manhattan.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona could change that.

Barcelona, which stars Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall, hits theatres on August 15th and it brings with it a lot of buzz. Since debuting at Cannes, the film has been receiving its share of critical praise and its cast is white hot. Bardem is fresh off an Oscar win for his chilling supporting turn in No Country for Old Men and both Cruz and Johansson are talented actresses who garner quite a bit of attention from the flashing bulbs of the paparazzi.

Of course, the film also boasts a kiss between Johansson and Cruz which could do a fare share of buzz building on its own.

Dale Hurst, the Director of Marketing for Carmike Cinemas is confident that Barcelona will be a success for Allen.

"Being in the business as long as I have, since 1971 and even earlier, Woody Allen has always been entertaining to me ... So I don't see why this movie should be any different. I'm looking forward to seeing [ Barcelona ]. This is a perfect time to introduce [Allen's] talents to a much younger audience," said Hurst.

Barcelona, which is set against the beautiful locales of Spain, also represents another change of scenery for Allen. The auteur has not filmed a movie set in his native New York since 2004's Melinda and Melinda, which failed to grab a larger audience for the 72-year-old writer/director despite starring Will Ferrell.

In 2005, Allen relocated to London for Match Point which critics and audiences alike hailed as a return to form after a string of disappointments. Point is also Allen's most financially successful film over the last several years. It brought in $23.1 million domestically, which is strong for Allen considering that he always receives a better reception overseas.

Point marked the beginning of Allen's unofficial "London Trilogy," as the director elected to film his next two projects there. However, 2006's Scoop and 2007's Cassandra's Dream proved to be considerably less successful than Point. Dream failed to even cross the $1 million mark domestically.

Barcelona will land in theatres two days after Tropic Thunder makes its appearance, which will be a big obstacle. Yet it will face little direct opposition from two animated flicks, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the 3D Fly Me to the Moon that open the same day.

Barcelona could even be a welcome breath of fresh air for audiences after a summer of special effects extravaganzas. Either way, Allen will keep on working, whether American audiences are with him or not.

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