‘King’s Speech’ Wins Over Academy Audience

At its Academy unveiling on Saturday night, Tom Hooper’s film solidifies its Oscar chances with a strong showing

There was never much question that “The King’s Speech” is the kind of movie that would play well in front of an Academy audience.

And according to people who were at the film’s official AMPAS member screening on Saturday night, Tom Hooper’s strong Oscar contender did just that.

Colin Firth“The audience loved the film … It played as well as anything I have seen this year,” reported one Academy member who attended the screening at the 1,000-seat Samuel Goldwyn theater, which the member estimated was 85 percent full.

Another person in attendance said that the credits brought “lots of applause” for director Hooper and stars Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce and others, plus “solid applause for the writer, cinematographer, costumes, all down the line.” And when the full cast scroll appeared onscreen, a second round of applause started up.

The turnout appears to be about the same as the attendance for “The Social Network,” which also drew a strong reaction when it screened at the Goldwyn in early October. Members who attended that screening told me that the film was very well received, albeit with some disclaimers that the characters weren’t likeable enough for the film to win.

One Academy member at Saturday’s screening added that “The King’s Speech” had a built-in appeal to what is sometimes seen as a key voting block within AMPAS: “Of course it will get all the English vote.”