Back in January, Harvey Weinstein announced his plan to release a re-edited edition of The King’s Speech. His thought was that if the film’s rating was dropped from it’s current R rating to a PG-13 one by eliminating the only string of profanities in the film, that entire families would be able to go to theaters to see the at-the-time Academy Award nominated film. This weekend that edited version of The King’s Speech, made without the participation of the film’s director Tom Hooper, premiered in theaters.
So did the hoped for audiences show up this weekend?
In a word – no.
Taking a look at the box office numbers for this weekend, the re-edited version of The King’s Speech pulled in $1.19 million dollars in ticket sales on 1,011 screens. This was down 23.3% from last weekend‘s $1.55 million. Which isn’t bad considering that last weekend’s box office take was down 23.4% from the previous weekend of March 18-20, where it sold just over $2 million in tickets.
But factoring in the number of screens the film is on for each weekend reveals a different picture. Two weekends ago, The King’s Speech was on 1,249 screens and had a per screen average of $1,629. However, the following weekend, the film lost 187 screens and had a per screen average drop of approximately 10% to $1467. Between last week and this week’s release of the re-edited film, there was only a 51 screen drop, but with a per screen average of $1,181, that comes to loss of 19.4%.
The numbers don’t lie. They clear show that Weinstein’s assertion that a more family-friendly rating would bring in more audience just wasn’t going to happen. I dare say that if the R-rated version remained in theaters that the box office numbers wouldn’t have been too much different from what we’re seeing now.
In Britain, where they don’t have quite the hang up over “naughty” words as it seems we have here in the States, The King’s Speech carries a rating of 12A, similar to our PG-13. The film has been doing well with audiences of all ages, and yes, families have been going to see it together. I think it would be fair to say that a story about the Royal Family would have a wider appeal in Britain and perhaps not too much of an appeal among the age group of Americans that was already prohibited to see it by its rating.
Harvey Weinstein is a savvy executive and his list of smart business decisions is a fairly long one. It’s just that we won’t be adding the idea of editing The King’s Speech down from an R to a PG-13 to that list.