Since Labor Day weekend, the conversation surrounding Hollywood economics has been almost exclusively about disappointment. From 'Warrior' all the way through 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,' new releases have financially underwhelmed to the point that all the year-to-year box-office gains made during the second and third quarters of 2011 -- after a terrible first quarter -- were washed away. 2011 will likely finish around 4 or 5 percent behind 2010 in box-office revenue -- a stat that maybe didn't seem possible when 'Harry Potter,' 'Bridesmaids' and 'Transformers' were making money hand over fist. All of which is to say, 2011 wasn't the best year for the movie business, relatively speaking -- it will still be the third-highest grossing year in history -- which is what makes the success of 'The King's Speech' still stunning 13 months after its initial release.
Released in four theaters on Nov. 26, 2010, 'The King's Speech' was seen as a likely Best Picture favorite, but perhaps not a box-office juggernaut. About that: despite never finishing higher than fourth at the domestic box office, 'The King's Speech' earned $138,797,449 between 2010 and 2011. This year alone, the Best Picture winner grossed $115.8 million -- better than films like 'Hop,' 'Paranormal Activity 3,' 'Bad Teacher,' 'Just Go With It,' 'The Muppets,' and, possibly, 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' and 'The Adventures of Tintin.'
Globally, 'The King's Speech' grossed over $414 million, more than 2011 successes like 'The Help,' 'Bridesmaids,' 'Captain America: First Avenger,' 'X-Men: First Class,' and 'Super 8.'
Those figures wouldn't be all that surprising if 'The King's Speech' weren't 'The King's Speech.' After all, it seems that studios can't get moviegoers to buy tickets for "sure things" like 'Dragon Tattoo' and 'The Muppets,' but The Weinstein Company was able to get Average Joes and Janes to plunk down hard-earned money to watch a story about a British king with a speech impediment. Think about that one, especially in light of the fact that similar art-house leaning 2011 releases -- like the Weinstein Company released 'My Week With Marilyn' and 'The Artist' -- aren't catching on nearly as well. That could change post-Oscar nominations, as things did with 'The King's Speech,' but it seems unlikely that either will scale such great box office heights.
All of which raises the question: What was it about 'The King's Speech' that struck such a chord with audiences? Seriously, I'm asking. To take nothing away from the quality of the film, doesn't $414 million in global grosses seem absurd for a movie like 'The King's Speech'? And yet, less than a year ago, it was the box-office hit that kept on giving: the Tom Hooper-directed film spent 11 weeks in the top-ten. 11 weeks! The thing was like a mini-'Titanic'!
So: Why did you see 'The King's Speech,' when it seems like you're less likely to head to the movies now?
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