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Will 'The King's Speech' surpass 'The Social Network' at the box office too?

February 1, 2011 |  2:30 pm

King's speech 
Buoyed by its 12 Oscar nominations issued Jan. 25, "The King's Speech" reaped an additional $11 million at the box office for a total domestic take of $72 million. The British WWII-era drama has finally reached the wide release level that most populous movies start out with in the market and should therefore play rather successfully over the next few weeks in advance of the Oscars.

In contrast, "The Social Network" opened in October, topped out at $92 million around Christmas and has slowly been ekeing out its last few million in its quest to reach the $100-million milestone. It's likely though that "The King's Speech" could surpass "Social Network" at the box office, which would really pour salt in the wounds of those filmmakers who seemed so unstoppable on their way to the Oscars only to meet with sudden steep awards competition from "King's Speech."

As Oscar prognosticators and other insiders take a closer look at why "The Social Network" is in the underdog position after being declared the absolute winner a few weeks ago, one question that continually crops up is, did the film peak too early? It's difficult to maintain the momentum of a front-runner from October until the end of February. Those behind the film had one piece of comfort in that if they couldn't win the gold, they at least got the box office coin. Now it seems that "The King's Speech" may get both, which leads one to wonder, should "The Social Network" have opened later in the year?

Hindsight is always perfectly focused, so it's easy now to question the film's release date. But if "The Social Network" had opened in December opposite such films as "True Grit" and "Black Swan" it might not have been able to reach the heights it did. And nearing a $100 million on a tough adult drama is a feat in itself, one that not long ago felt impossible but now appears to be commonplace with such films as "King's Speech" and "Black Swan" getting so close despite their unconventional subject matter.

— Nicole Sperling

 Photo: Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech." Credit: The Weinstein Co.