‘King’s Speech’ Garners Top Oscars, Including Best Picture

Actor Colin Firth
The Kings Speech was crowned best picture and its leading man Colin Firth won the Oscar for best actor as the Academy Awards honored smaller-budget films that won over audiences. Photographer: Jason Merritt/Getty Image

“The King’s Speech” reigned as best picture and its leading man Colin Firth won the Oscar for best actor as the Academy Awards honored smaller-budget films that won over moviegoers.

The film’s director Tom Hooper and screenwriter David Seidler also captured Oscars last night at the 83rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Natalie Portman won the best actress Oscar for her portrayal of a disturbed ballerina in “Black Swan” from News Corp.’s Fox film studio.

The top honors for 2010 films went to pictures made with modest budgets that went on to produce considerable box-office profits. “The King’s Speech” was made for $15 million and took in $237 million in global ticket sales, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. “Black Swan” cost $13 million and generated $204 million in ticket sales worldwide.

“The movie shines a light on something that badly needed it,” Firth, 50, said to reporters backstage. “The emotional response seems to be quite personal. It has been very powerful to be on the receiving end of that.”

“The King’s Speech,” distributed by Weinstein Co., tells the story of King George VI’s relationship with a therapist, played by Geoffrey Rush, who helps him overcome a stammer. In the role, Firth also struggles with doubts about his fitness to be Britain’s monarch. Seidler was a stutterer as a youth.

‘The Film Should Stand’

Weinstein Co. won a PG-13 rating for an alternate version of the movie from the Motion Picture Association of America on Feb. 25. The New York-based studio plans to release the film after advertising the difference between it and the R-rated original, which included scenes with strong language, the MPAA said.

Firth told reporters he doesn’t support the changes made to the film.

“I don’t take this stuff lightly,” Firth said. “In the context of this film it couldn’t be more edifying or less malicious. It’s about a man trying to free himself through the expression of forbidden words. I think the film should stand.”

Aaron Sorkin won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay for “The Social Network,” Sony Corp.’s film about Facebook Inc. and its founder Mark Zuckerberg. Time Warner Inc.’s “Inception” won four Oscars, including best cinematography and visual effects.

‘Extraordinary Journey’

Disney’s “Toy Story 3” captured the Academy Award for best animated feature, and its “Alice in Wonderland” won two Oscars, including best art direction.

The annual awards show, hosted this year by James Franco and Anne Hathaway, averaged 37.6 million U.S. TV viewers, according to Nielsen Co. data released by Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network, a decline of 9.8 percent from the 41.7 million who watched the 2010 telecast. The show was broadcast live from the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.

The Oscars are the most-watched yearly awards show and typically rank behind only the Super Bowl and professional football playoffs in total viewers.

“The Fighter,” based on the real-life story of boxer Micky Ward’s climb to championship, brought best-supporting actor Oscars for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Bale, 37, won for his portrayal of Dicky Eklund, Ward’s junkie half-brother. Leo, 50, took the honor for playing Ward’s mother in the film distributed by Paramount Pictures.

The film, which features Mark Wahlberg as Ward and Bale as his troubled half-brother, has grossed $107.3 million worldwide on a production budget of $25 million. Leo earlier won a Golden Globe award for the role.

‘Extraordinary Journey’

“This has been an extraordinary journey,” Leo said during an acceptance speech that included a censor’s bleep for profanity. “It’s about selling motion pictures and respecting the work.”

Oscar-nominated films have fared better financially than Hollywood as a whole. Sales for all 10 of this year’s best-picture nominees have exceeded their production budgets, according to Box Office Mojo. Box-office revenue in the U.S. and Canada fell slightly last year to $10.57 billion, propped up by higher prices for 3-D films, while attendance declined 5.7 percent. In 2011, sales have fallen 21 percent and attendance is down 22 percent, according to Hollywood.com Box-Office.

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