One of the producers of The King’s Speech talks about the film’s 12 Oscar nominations and the box-office boom.
Gareth Unwin, one of the producers of The King’s Speech, praises the film’s distributors The Weinstein Company (US) and Momentum (UK) for not only pushing the film for awards season but also for its phenomenal box-office performance.
Gareth Unwin told Screen last week: “All of three of us [the other producers are Iain Canning and Emile Sherman] want to recognise the amazing work that the theatrical distribution departments at The Weinstein Company and Momentum have been doing getting people into the cinemas to see our film, because that’s often the hardest step to get people out of the front door into the dark room for two hours.”
“It’s so great that the film is resonating with awards juries and panels and groups, but what’s really stunning us as producers at the moment is the amazing response we’re seeing at the box office,” he added.
Unwin, of UK production company Bedlam Productions, originated the project with writer David Seidler before going to Iain Canning and Emile Sherman of See-Saw Productions to take the project to the next level.
He called the film’s 12 Oscar nominations “amazing,” and added: “The recognition that BAFTA offered us was a precursor to all of this, and I think as we’ve all mentioned, each group of people have their own predictions and preferences, and so it never becomes real until the nominations are announced.”
Speculating on why the film is such a hit with UK and US audiences, Unwin said: “The reason that the film is resonating with people so much is that it’s a very common theme, we’ve all struggled with an issue in our lives. In a times when things are very uncertain on a global stage, ours is a story is triumph in the face of adversity and good winning out. It’s one of those universal themes that people can embrace…You hear anecdotal stories about spontaneous rounds of applause at the end of the film, cinemas in the farthest-flung districts of the US and UK being absolutely mobbed.”
Speaking about working with Harvey Weinstein on the awards campaign, Unwin said: “It’s difficult to speculate how it would have been different [without TWC] but he has an amazing track record in being able to profile and support films.”
Unwin recalled the shock when the team for what he calls “ostensibly the little film that could” won the PGA award instead of heavily tipped more seasoned producers. “It was stunning for us, we literally screamed. It was a genuine, genuine shock,” he said. “They [PGA voters] didn’t preclude us because we’re under 40 and non PGA members, but generally the membership spoke that that was their favourite movie of 2010.” The surprises continued as Hooper won the DGA prize on Saturday.
The cast has also been key in the awards race. “No one can take away the fact that the awards season is incredibly punishing for those that are going through it,” Unwin said. “For Colin [Firth] to do two back to back, reflects his incredible stamina. Across the board the work that Colin, Geoffrey [Rush], Helena [Bonham-Carter], Tom [Hooper], and David [Seidler] have been doing to keep the film in the public gaze, they’ve been so generous with their time.”
Both Bedlam and See-Saw haven’t just been sitting back counting the nominations. Canning and Sherman are busy in New York shooting Steve McQueen’s Shame, starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan.
And because Unwin and Seidler have been in LA together, they have been able to continue to develop their next film together, The Lady Who Went Too Far, about Lady Hestor Stanhope. “I’m getting a lovely amount of time to work on these early drafts of Lady Hestor,” he said.
The whole team will be back in the UK soon for the BAFTAs. “We are all looking forward to being back for the BAFTAs. We’ve seen this UK box office grow and mature and yet we’ve been distant from it, so we’re looking forward to being back and to embrace the home support.”
He added: “I think it is great to be part of a resurgent year [for British year], it’s been a very strong year for British cinema.”