“The Kids Are All Right” had a stellar run, but the Focus Features indie hit has officially abdicated its title as highest per-screen opener of the year. Best picture contender “The King’s Speech” had a knockout debut this weekend with $349,791 in four theaters or $87,448 per screen to take the crown. And yes, it looks like The Weinstein Company has a hit on their hands…at least in limited release.
“King’s” mark surpasses “Kid’s” per screen of $70,282 on seven screens in July. It’s more impressive when considering another best picture player, the much buzzed about “127 Hours,” grossed $66,213 per screen in four theaters earlier this month. In fact, when considering the all time limited openers “Speech” fared better than “Up in the Air’s” $78,763 per on 15 last year and was just behind “There Will Be Blood’s” $95,370 per in 2007.
The anointed best picture frontrunner since its stirring debut at the Telluride Film Festival and winning the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, “King’s Speech” has kept a low, but steady profile as the awards season race has slowly heated up. The film will get it’s share of critical end of year accolades, but The Weinstein Company knows nothing will help cement its odds at defeating “The Social Network” or “Inception” for the best picture Oscar more than impressive box office. The mini-major plans to aggressively expand “Speech” over the next month so chances are if you live outside of New York or Los Angeles you’ll find it at your local multiplex way before the Golden Globes air on January 16.
As for “127 Hours,” the inspirational Danny Boyle drama had a solid Thanksgiving run with $1.7 million from 293 theaters for a new gross of $4.4 million. The picture hasn’t been the twentysomething phenomenon many expected, but awards heat — especially for Franco’s performance — should eventually get it to a $12-15 million gross. Any more will be dependent on year end accolades and a big showing at the Globes and Oscars.
A number of other awards contenders are still in theaters including the aforementioned “Social Network” which hit the $90 million mark today. Expect Sony Pictures to keep the film in theaters as long as possible to try and hit that “magic” $100 million mark. Other potential contenders such as “Black Swan,” “The Fighter, “True Grit” and “Another Year” will hit theaters over the next few weeks.
Also notable, potential best documentary winner “Waiting for ‘Superman'” has grossed an admirable $6.2 million so far and is closing in on “Babies'” $7.3 million summer take for the largest doc gross of the year.
Follow Gregory Ellwood and Awards Campaign on Twitter @HitFixGregory