<p>Don't look so concerned Colin.&nbsp; &quot;The King's Speech&quot; had the biggest per screen debut of the year.</p>

Don't look so concerned Colin.  "The King's Speech" had the biggest per screen debut of the year.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Box Office: 'King's Speech' has a triumphant limited debut

Best picture contender lands the highest per screen of the year

"The Kids Are All Right" had a stellar run, but the Focus Features indie hit has officially abdicated its title as highest per-screen opener of the year.  Best picture contender "The King's Speech" had a knockout debut this weekend with $349,791 in four theaters or $87,448 per screen to take the crown.  And yes, it looks like The Weinstein Company has a hit on their hands…at least in limited release.

"King's" mark surpasses "Kid's" per screen of $70,282 on seven screens in July.  It's more impressive when considering another best picture player, the much buzzed about "127 Hours," grossed $66,213 per screen in four theaters earlier this month.  In fact, when considering the all time limited openers "Speech" fared better than "Up in the Air's" $78,763 per on 15 last year and was just behind "There Will Be Blood's" $95,370 per in 2007. 

The anointed best picture frontrunner since its stirring debut at the Telluride Film Festival and winning the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, "King's Speech" has kept a low, but steady profile as the awards season race has slowly heated up.  The film will get it's share of critical end of year accolades, but The Weinstein Company knows nothing will help cement its odds at defeating "The Social Network" or "Inception" for the best picture Oscar more than impressive box office.  The mini-major plans to aggressively expand "Speech" over the next month so chances are if you live outside of New York or Los Angeles you'll find it at your local multiplex way before the Golden Globes air on January 16.

As for "127 Hours," the inspirational Danny Boyle drama had a solid Thanksgiving run with $1.7 million from 293 theaters for a new gross of $4.4 million.  The picture hasn't been the twentysomething phenomenon many expected, but awards heat -- especially for Franco's performance -- should eventually get it to a $12-15 million gross.  Any more will be dependent on year end accolades and a big showing at the Globes and Oscars.

A number of other awards contenders are still in theaters including the aforementioned "Social Network" which hit the $90 million mark today.  Expect Sony Pictures to keep the film in theaters as long as possible to try and hit that "magic" $100 million mark.  Other potential contenders such as "Black Swan," "The Fighter, "True Grit" and "Another Year" will hit theaters over the next few weeks.

Also notable, potential best documentary winner "Waiting for 'Superman'" has grossed an admirable $6.2 million so far and is closing in on "Babies'" $7.3 million summer take for the largest doc gross of the year. 

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<p>The one truly memorable and iconic moment from Walt Disney's &quot;Tangled.&quot;</p>

The one truly memorable and iconic moment from Walt Disney's "Tangled."

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Oscar Watch: 'Tangled' makes best animated feature race hairy

Plus: Reminders for all the big nomination announcements next week

Another funny thing has happened in the best animated feature category.  First, animation and Oscar fans everywhere were disappointed to learn earlier this month that only 15 films qualified for this year's award.  By Academy rules, that means only three pictures can be nominated in the category.  Last year, five films made the cut and it was expected 2011 would duplicated that feat.  No dice.  Not when you don't have 16 qualified films.  Yep, that's right -  just one additional qualifying picture would have bumped it up to five. 

When that news broke, most pundits and animation industry watchers made "Toy Story 3" and "How To Train Your Dragon" locks for two of the three nomination slots.  The third?  That would most likely be a battle between Universal Pictures' monster hit "Despicable Me" and Sony Classics' "The Illusionist."  That was, however, until this past week. 

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Beau Garrett in Joseph Kosinski's "Tron Legacy"

Beau Garrett in Joseph Kosinski's "Tron Legacy."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

'Tron Legacy' and 'Narnia' ready to rule December

Watch: Producer and Disney prez Sean Bailey talks 3-D

When pre-release polling hit studio E-mail in boxes this past Monday, Sean Bailey no doubt took a huge sigh of relief.  Along with Walden Media and 20th Century Fox's "The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader," Bailey's pet project "Tron Legacy" is tracking as though it will hit theaters like a monster.  Both films should be two of the biggest openings since the summer season.  Considering how much the studio has invested in production and marketing the film for over three years, that's very good news.

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James Franco, "127 Hours"

James Franco's critically acclaimed performance in "127 Hours" can now be enjoyed from the comfort of Academy and SAG nominating committee voters homes.

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Oscar voters spending Thanksgiving with '127 Hours,' 'I Am Love' and 'Phillip Morris'

What screeners are in Oscar and SAG members viewing pile?

Thanksgiving isn't just a time for friends, family and quieter Southern California highways.  For Academy and SAG nominating committee members, it's the first extended period to really start digging through the always daunting screener pile. 

Any consultant and serious Oscar aficionado will tell you there is arguably nothing more important than timing the delivery of your screener.  Many nominations have been won or lost by getting copies of contending movies in front of voters when they actually have time to watch them (or not).

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Helena Bonham Carter, "The King's Speech"

Helena Bonham Carter in Tom Hooper's "The King's Speech."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Exclusive: Helena Bonham Carter hopes for the best in 'The King's Speech'

Prime Oscar player opens in limited release on Friday

Moviegoers in New York and Los Angeles are going to get a late Thanksgiving treat on Friday as Tom Hooper's "The King's Speech" is finally coming to theaters.  Ever since it debuted at Telluride in September, "Speech" has been the buzz of awards pundits and the industry.  Not only is the historical drama a prime contender for a number of key Academy Awards categories including best picture, best actor (Colin Firth), best supporting actor (Geoffrey Rush) and best director (Hooper), but it's also The Weinstein Company's biggest potential hit since "Inglourious Basterds" in the summer of 2009.

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Sally Hawkins talks about her new drama "Made in Dagenham"

Sally Hawkins talks about her new drama "Made in Dagenham."

Watch: Sally Hawkins and Miranda Richardson shine in 'Made in Dagenham'

Two Brits make the most of new historical drama


Whew, Sally Hawkins isn't going to be a one movie wonder.  The 2009 Golden Globe winner for her charismatic role in Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky," Hawkins' hasn't been embraced by Hollywood yet, but the Brit is making it increasingly difficult for filmmakers stateside to ignore her.  After two supporting roles in "An Education" and "Never Let Me Go," Hawkins has returned with another impressive turn in the new drama "Made in Dagenham" and was almost revelatory in the Toronto Film Festival comedy "Submarine" which will be released next year.

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Jesse Eisenberg appears on "Conan" Thursday, Nov. 18.

Jesse Eisenberg appears on "Conan" Thursday, Nov. 18.

Credit: TBS

Oscar Watch: 'Social Network' makes a Thanksgiving move

Plus: Christian Bale plays cagey Q&A and 'True Grit' gets a global look

Like a political campaign, awards season is about making the right moves at the right time to take the biggest prize of them all; best picture.  There are over 5,000 Academy members studios are looking to win over and some experts argue you can never start too early.  While most filmmakers insist they want audiences of any kind to see their films in a theater, the true contenders know screeners sent to member's homes are how you really play the game.

The two prime periods to get Academy and SAG members' attention is over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and during the week between Christmas and New Year's when the town pretty much shuts down.  You can argue when is the better time to mail them out, but if you wait until after Christmas, you can become a quick afterthought. This week,  two prime best picture contenders, "The Kids Are All Right" and "The Social Network" made sure their screeners arrived before anyone went out of town for Thanksgiving.  For "Network," it's a significant move (and gamble) considering the drama is still playing well in theaters.  Focus Features also showed it was serious about another drama on its slate, "Somewhere," but sending a screener out over a month before Sofia Coppola's latest even opens in limited release.  

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<p>Daniel Day-Lewis</p>

Daniel Day-Lewis

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Daniel Day-Lewis to portray 'Lincoln' for Steven Spielberg

Expected star Liam Neeson dropped out long ago

LOS ANGELES - DreamWorks Studios announced today that Steven Spielberg is moving forward with his long awaited biopic about the nation's 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, simply titled "Lincoln."  More intriguing, Spielberg has chosen two-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis to play the legendary historical figure.

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Mark Wahlberg in a dramatic scene from David O. Russell's "The Fighter"

Mark Wahlberg in a dramatic scene from David O. Russell's "The Fighter."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Exclusive: Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in new 'The Fighter' clip

Superb scene from entertaining Oscar contender

Sometime next month, a friend, colleague or relative will tell you about this "great" movie they just saw.  And eventually, you might be surprised to discover it's the tad under the radar David O. Russell drama "The Fighter."  Now, it seems odd to think of a Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale movie as "under the radar," but this is one prestige pic that won't be much longer.

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<p>&quot;Waiting for 'Superman'&quot; is among the 15 finalists in the coveted Oscar race for Best Documentary Feature</p>

"Waiting for 'Superman'" is among the 15 finalists in the coveted Oscar race for Best Documentary Feature

Credit: Paramount

'Waiting for 'Superman'' and 'The Tillman Story' among 15 docs that advance in Oscar race

Five final nominees will be picked from this shortlist

Fifteen documentaries out of an initial crowd of one hundred and one will advance into another round of voting to become nominees for the Documentary Feature category of the 83'rd annual Academy Awards. Notable docs include "Waiting For Superman" about our nation's failing school system, "Exit Through the Gift Shop" about famed street artist Banksy, and "The Tillman Story" about the friendly fire military cover up of the death of Pat Tillman.

The Documentary Branch Screening committee viewed all eligible documentaries and will now select five nominees out of the following fifteen, listed in alphabetical order.

 

  • •“Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” Alex Gibney, director (ES Productions LLC)
  • •“Enemies of the People,” Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, directors (Old Street Films)
  • •“Exit through the Gift Shop,” Banksy, director (Paranoid Pictures)
  • •“Gasland,” Josh Fox, director (Gasland Productions, LLC)
  • •“Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould,” Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont, directors (White Pine Pictures)
  • •“Inside Job,” Charles Ferguson, director (Representational Pictures)
  • •“The Lottery,” Madeleine Sackler, director (Great Curve Films)
  • •“Precious Life,” Shlomi Eldar, director (Origami Productions)
  • •“Quest for Honor,” Mary Ann Smothers Bruni, director (Smothers Bruni Productions)
  • •“Restrepo,” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, directors (Outpost Films)
  • •“This Way of Life,” Thomas Burstyn, director (Cloud South Films)
  • •“The Tillman Story,” Amir Bar-Lev, director (Passion Pictures/Axis Films)
  • •“Waiting for ‘Superman’”, Davis Guggenheim, director (Electric Kinney Films)
  • •“Waste Land,” Lucy Walker, director (Almega Projects)
  • •“William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe,” Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, directors (Disturbing the Universe LLC)

Among the high profile docs missing from the list are Sundance favorites "Catfish," "Joan Rivers: Piece of Work" and Alex Gibney's "Casino Jack and the United States of Money." 

The 83rd Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.


The Oscars will air live Sunday, February 27, 2011, on ABC
 

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