Posted on Monday, April 4th, 2011 by Germain Lussier
When The Weinstein Company decided to edit the cursing out of Tom Hooper‘s Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech, they felt the new family-friendly PG-13 rating would help them draw even more money out of their little film that could. Well amid controversy over the artistic merits of such a chop job, audiences have spoken. Last weekend, when The King’s Speech was still rated R, it pulled in about $2.2 million, good for 13th place. This weekend, the new PG-13 version pulled in, according to early estimates, only $1.2 million, dropping to 14th place.
Does this mean the Weinstein’s experiment failed? Or was it simply too late in the game to change a film that had already made over $130 million? Read more after the jump.If you look strictly at the box office receipts, the new PG-13 rating, complete with totally new marketing campaign touting The King’s Speech as a family film, definitely failed to draw in any new filmgoers. But that doesn’t mean the experiment was a total failure. It’s not as if the film added more theaters with the PG-13 release. In fact, it actually lost 51 theaters nationwide from last week. That right there leads one to believe that, PG-13 rating or not, theater exhibitors felt that the shelf life of the film, originally released at Thanksgiving, was beginning to wane. Plus, the Oscars were over a month ago. Maybe the bump from all those awards has already run its course. With those factors, it’s hard to only blame the new rating for the drop in box office.
However, now that the PG-13 box office experiment is over – and after one week, make no mistake, it is – the Weinstein’s overall experiment enters the next phase – the home market. This is where it’s almost impossible for the PG-13 not have an impact. With a PG-13 version of The King’s Speech out there, teachers can show it in classrooms, television stations will be more accepting and if posed with a decision to watch either version at home, most parents will almost assuredly pick the PG-13. Plus, with the film already well into profitability, any additional traction the studio gains now is just gravy.
I think most of us who were adamantly against the Weinsteins cutting out an absolutely essential component of the movie just to make a few bucks can pat our backs today. Two middle fingers up to censorship! You failed, Harvey! But, not really. In the long run this decision will probably end up panning out for the Weinsteins. We may have won the battle but we probably won’t win the war. Our only hope is that other studios look at this example and learn from it. Films are art. Don’t slash at their integrity for a few bucks.