Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mark Palansky|
|Produced by||Reese Witherspoon|
|Written by||Leslie Caveny|
Richard E. Grant
|Music by||Joby Talbot|
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment (U.S.)
The Weinstein Company (Premiered)
|Release date(s)||Toronto Film Festival
September 8, 2006
February 1, 2008
February 29, 2008
|Running time||91 minutes
101 minutes (Premiered)
|Gross revenue||North America $20,942,056|
Penelope Wilhern is a young woman from a well-bred and wealthy family with all the qualities to make an excellent match for any other well-bred man of her status. However, the one thing that sets her apart is her face, which, in fact, resembles that of a pig. This was a curse set on her family generations ago, and the only way to break the curse is for one of her kind to accept her for what she is.
Generations ago, an embittered witch placed a curse on the Wilhern family because their son had impregnated her daughter, one of their servants. The son offered marriage but his family refused and married him off to another. The witch's daughter, overwrought, threw herself off a cliff. The witch cursed the Wilherns in such a way that would result in the next girl born into the clan having the face of a pig. For generations, only sons were born into the family, until five generations later when Penelope (Christina Ricci) was born, stricken with the curse. It is said that the curse can only be lifted if one of her own learns to love her, which is interpreted by her parents to mean a blueblood -- a person from an established noble family.
When a tabloid reporter named Lemon (Peter Dinklage) begins stalking the family to get a photograph of the infant Penelope, her parents, Jessica (Catherine O'Hara) and Franklin (Richard E. Grant) fake their daughter's death and then hide their daughter away in their mansion, where Penelope spends her life immersing herself in intellectual pursuits such as literature, horticulture and music. Now an adult, Penelope's parents attempt to introduce her to possible rich suitors, hoping that one of them will fall in love with her and break the curse. Unfortunately, every man who lays eyes on the girl takes flight at first sight, never to return, including Edward Humphrey Vanderman III (Simon Woods), a spoiled, cruel-hearted snob who finds her repulsive.
Vanderman's panicked flight from the Wilhern house results in a newspaper article dubbing him unstable. To redeem his name, he teams up with Lemon and the team goes out to find someone who can get into the house for a picture. They mistakenly take Johnny Martin (James McAvoy), an unrepentant gambler with a heavy heart, for a distantly blue-blooded Max Campion (Nick Frost), who agrees to help Lemon and Vanderman snatch a photograph of her for money. When "Max" meets Penelope, however, he is unexpectedly caught off guard by her disarming charm, and decides to renege on his agreement with Lemon and Vanderman, realizing that their attempt to exploit Penelope is repugnant.
The production of Penelope started in 2006 in London. According to Internet Movie Database, it was filmed in the United Kingdom. It premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. It was also Reese Witherspoon's first film in a producing role along with a small acting role.
The finished film was caught in limbo for over a year. Originally purchased by The Weinstein Company and IFC Films, it was removed from the release date schedule and eventually dropped by the two studios. Summit Entertainment eventually picked up United States distribution rights.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. As of February 29, 2008, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 53% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 108 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 48 out of 100, based on 29 reviews — indicating mixed or average reviews. 
The film premiered September 8, 2006 at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was also shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007. The film opened in Russia and Ukraine in August 2007. Penelope was released in the United Kingdom on February 1, 2008. It opened in wide release in the United States and Canada on February 29, 2008.
By October 5, 2008, the film had grossed $20.8 million worldwide—with $6.5 million in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Malta.
Penelope was released on July 15, 2008 in the United States. It included a 2:35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track. The extras were a behind-the-scene featurette and world-premiere features from the upcoming Summit film Twilight as well as behind-the-scenes features and interviews from the film, released four months later. Also available was a Target exclusive edition which was a two disc deluxe edition set and exclusive tickets to see four Universal Studios films: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Mamma Mia!, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Death Race.
Joby Talbot composed the music for the film. A soundtrack album was released.
Penelope is a 2008 comedy-fantasy film from Summit Entertainment and Stone Village Pictures. The film is about a young aristocratic heiress born under a curse that can only be broken when she finds true love with "one who will love her faithfully."