Archive for March 2011

Box Office Comparison: The King’s Speech vs The Social Network

March 6, 2011

There is not always a nexus between  the box office and the critical acclaim of a film, but in the following case the ticket sales were very telling, painting an interesting picture and giving a unique opportunity for analysis. Below is a graphical representation of box office results comparing the The King’s Speech and The Social Network. Why these two films? Simply, in his 2011 Oscar Predictions, Sam tabled the two front runners- the criteria of which I tend to agree with. You can revisit it here.

Box Office Comparison

* Box office results adapted from


The first thing to notice is the major contrast in starting points. The Social Network opened with a standard wide release, whereas (clearly shown in the chart) The King’s Speech started with a limited release. The reasoning for the limited release was, as far as I can see, a film classification issue- originally, and controversially, it was rated ‘R’- as well as a what can only be described as a hazy transition period from film festival screenings to the big screen.

The second item to notice are the repeated spikes in the two lines. For the seasoned film analyst, it will be commonsense to stipulate that these spikes are the weekend. Increased leisure time for consumers directly translates to a massive ongoing increase in ticket sales on Friday, Saturday, and Sundays.

What else does the chart tell us?

There is no doubt that The Social Network took out the head-to-head crown for its opening weekend with a figure of $22,445,653 whereas by the time The King’s Speech opened ‘properly’ it only gained a meagre $4,484,352.

However, there was a noticeably steep decent for The Social Network. It seemed to maintain some serious strength on the weekends for just over the first month, but shortly afterwards it eroded away to next-to-nothing. On the other hand, The King’s Speech tended to maintain its graphical structural integrity for a lot longer. To borrow an economist’s measure, the area under the curve was substantially greater. In layman’s terms, when it came to The King’s Speech, there was just more beef!

Whilst this is only one set of eyes to analyse the film, it would seem to be a useful perspective. If I was to take two points away from this chart I would suggest: one, that with careful and extensive marketing (such as in The Social Network)- and this includes word of mouth- ticket sales can ‘be bought’. In other words, a solid advertising campaign, coupled with a hint of virality, can produce some results. However, the more important finding, is that quality acting and substance does win out in the end, as was evidenced in The King’s Speech.

Finally, for the sake of fairness and for those film economists out there, both films offered a substantial return on investment for those who financed them. What does this mean? It’s highly likely that this will not be the last time we hear from the producers and directors. So, the movie goer wins out in the end. Fingers crossed for more quality films by these players in the future.