By now you’ve probably seen dozens of critics’ best-of-2011 lists (including ours!), and noticed some amount of overlap on films like Hugo, Drive, and Tree of Life. But there’s more than one way to gauge a movie’s success, and when it comes to what general audiences are actually watching, a whole different set of titles come out on top.

According to a report just released by Redbox, the Adam Sandler vehicle Just Go With It was the most rented title at its bright red kiosks in 2011, ahead of several other comedies including No Strings Attached, Rango, and The Dilemma. Meanwhile, Fast Five leads the list of the most pirated movies of the year, followed by The Hangover Part II, Thor, and Source Code. Read both lists after the jump.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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THE KING’S SPEECH
Approaching a story of monumental scope with charm and intimacy, The King’s Speech is a finely crafted crowd-pleaser that plays fast and loose with history but does so to convey a decidedly more human tale of finding one’s inner strength in order to be heard. There’s not a single surprising moment in the whole thing, as every element of the limply conventional narrative has been depicted in film on countless occasions — the movie of the week disorder, the reluctant leader, the unorthodox therapist/psychiatrist, etc. — but rarely have these humdrum plot mechanics been handled with such authority and wit. The acting is superb across the board, with Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush marvelously portraying the “unexpected” friendship that blossoms between royalty and commoner. Their command of the screen brings a much welcome vitality to the film’s rather safe theatrics. Tom Hooper, meanwhile, refines his visually sumptuous period drama by presenting the material as accessibly as possible, employing any number of off-kilter camera angles, behind-the-back steadicam shots and fish-eye lenses to find that delicate balance between vulnerable and frigidly dignified. I wouldn’t say I was wowed by the film as many others seem to have been — and I’m a tad resentful that it won Best Picture over far superior efforts such as The Social Network, Black Swan and 127 Hours — but if you’re looking for a nice film to watch with the family, it’s a pretty good bet that The King’s Speech will comfortably satisfy that need.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD & Blu-ray – Audio Commentary, Making Of Featurette, Deleted Scenes.

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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. Read More »

PG-13 Cut of ‘The King’s Speech’ Opens April 1

April Fools? The Weinstein Company announced today that the PG-13 version of big Oscar winner The King’s Speech will open on April 1. The film was originally rated R for a string of expletives uttered by Colin Firth as his character, King George VI, attempts to break through his stutter. Because violence is OK but a couple instances of the word ‘fuck’ aren’t, that was enough to land the film with an R.

When this cut goes out to theaters it will be on 1000 screens, replacing the R-rated version that is currently being shown. So if you want to see the original cut of the film on the big screen, you have eight more days, counting today. Deadline reports that the PG-13 cut involves replacing all the instances of ‘fuck’ with the word ‘shit.’ Otherwise, it is exactly the same as the R-rated version. April Fool’s indeed. Wonder if director (sorry, Best Director) Tom Hooper still disapproves of this move? I’d expect so. The press release is after the break. Read More »

Harvey Weinstein has created a new, more family-friendly PG-13 cut of The King’s Speech, but the film’s director Tom Hooper, the proud owner of a shiny new Best Director Oscar, hasn’t yet seen the cut. Within the context of creative enterprise this is an interesting representation of the cross purposes of storytelling and business, but after the resounding endorsement of the current version of the film (four Oscars, over $100m domestic box office) is the whole idea of a different edit just a weird coda to the film’s success story? Read More »

Movie Review: ‘The King’s Speech’

[Update -  Seeing as The King's Speech just won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, we though we'd re-run Germain's rave review from November. Review starts after the jump.]

Everyone knows the American Film Institute as the people who do the 100 Years series. But they’re much more than that. They’re a worthy organization who work not only preserve great cinema but also to teach a new generation to make great cinema of their own. Also, each year in they host their own film festival called AFI Fest which, in the past two years, has distinguished itself from most other major film festivals by giving away all tickets for free.

The location of the festival is pretty special, too, especially for film fans. It’s located smack dab in the middle of Hollywood, so films play in some of the most famous movie theaters in the world. Take, for example, Friday night. I got to check out the highly buzzed about political period piece The King’s Speech in Grauman’s Chinese Theater, preceded by a tribute to not only director Tom Hooper, but stars Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush too, who were all in attendance. It was a very special evening thanks in mostly in part to a fantastic film. Read the full review after the jump and check back over the course of the week for more coverage from AFI Fest. Read More »

The Weinstein Company found itself embroiled in two battles with the MPAA last year. One was over the film Blue Valentine, which was given an NC-17 for one sex scene, and the rating was successfully appealed down to an R without edits being made to the film.

The other was for The King’s Speech, given an R for profanity, most of which is uttered in one sequence where King George VI (Colin Firth) attempts to break through his stutter. That appeal was unsuccessful, and the film’s R rating stuck. But when the film was nominated for many Oscars, the company said it might edit the film to get a PG-13 in order to capitalize on awards momentum. Now the edited version of the film has been given a PG-13. Read More »

With The King’s Speech currently favored to clean house at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards — after major wins at the Producers Guild and DGA Awards, it’s practically a lock for Best Picture — it should come as no surprise that the creative team behind the film is interested in collaborating once again.

Like The King’s Speech, the in-development project is a historical drama about royalty challenging the social stigmas that stand in their way. (Because why mess with success?) Titled The Lady Who Went Too Far, the film is based on the non-fiction book “Star of the Morning: The Extraordinary Life of Lady Hester Stanhope” by Kirsten Ellis, and is being adapted by The King’s Speech writer David Seidler (Tucker: The Man and His Dream). Reuniting with Seidler is producer Gareth Unwin, who was one of Speech‘s many backers. Speech director Tom Hooper (The Damned United), meanwhile, has also expressed interest in helming the film, should everything come together as planned. Learn more after the break. Read More »

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