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'The King's Speech' gains momentum at box office

January 18, 2011

'The King's Speech' gains momentum

"The King's Speech" found its box office voice this weekend.

In a critical nationwide expansion that proved the British drama has plenty of appeal beyond big cities, "The King's Speech" roughly doubled its theater count to 1,543 over Martin Luther King Day weekend and generated a very healthy $11.2 million from Friday through Monday.

That's actually more than the indie phenomenon "Black Swan" grossed on its first weekend in about the same number of theaters. However, "The King's Speech" has taken eight weeks to build up to a nationwide release, twice as long as "Black Swan."

It remains to be seen if "King's Speech" has the kind of box-office legs to approach the $75.2 million — and growing — in receipts generated by "Black Swan." It currently stands at $46.7 million.

The fact-based tale of King George VI and his speech therapist cost only $12.3 million to produce, making it already a solid and much-needed hit for domestic distributor and co-financier Weinstein Co. "King's Speech" is the fourth highest release ever for the independent studio and will soon be its third, behind only "Inglourious Basterds" and "Scary Movie 4."

A Golden Globe win on Sunday for star Colin Firth and potential Oscar nominations could provide a significant box-office boost to the picture.

Ben Fritz

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