King’s Speech helps crown best year for Showroom

FILE-   In this film publicity file image released by Fox Searchlight, Natalie Portman is shown in a scene from "Black Swan." Film critics are abuzz over actress Natalie Portman's work in the new big-screen "Black Swan," but fashionistas are flipping over something else: the film's forward-thinking ballet costumes by Rodarte, sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy.    (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight, Niko Tavernise, FILE) NO SALES
FILE- In this film publicity file image released by Fox Searchlight, Natalie Portman is shown in a scene from "Black Swan." Film critics are abuzz over actress Natalie Portman's work in the new big-screen "Black Swan," but fashionistas are flipping over something else: the film's forward-thinking ballet costumes by Rodarte, sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy. (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight, Niko Tavernise, FILE) NO SALES

SHEFFIELD’S Showroom Cinema is reporting a record-breaking year at the box office with attendance figures at their highest yet.

It is reflecting a national trend with overall box office receipts for 2011 expected to be around 4 per cent higher than last year, but the Showroom reckons it has done even better with a 14% rise.

OSCAR WINNER: Colin Firth as George VI in The King's Speech.

OSCAR WINNER: Colin Firth as George VI in The King's Speech.

The year got off to a fine start with the release of The King’s Speech, one of the Showroom’s most successful films ever, which went on to worldwide success and swept the board at the 2011 Oscars.

Second only to the final Harry Potter movie as the most successful film of the year across the country, The King’s Speech was the best performer of the releases that came to the specialist cinema on Paternoster Row which is supported with funding from Sheffield City Council and Cultural England.

The Showroom’s Top 10 reveals it has been a strong year for British film with no less than seven of them being British productions – and, with Tinker Tailor Soldier spy ranked second, suggests how popular Colin Firth is with cinema-goers.

As well as more commercial fare, the Showroom always offers a diverse range of films, screening smaller independent and foreign-language films that may not be screened anywhere else in the city. This was its remit when it opened in 1993.

A still from the film We Need to Talk about Kevin, of which, Morecambe proudcer Philip Herd is an associate producer. Pictured is the film's star Tilda Swinton.

A still from the film We Need to Talk about Kevin, of which, Morecambe proudcer Philip Herd is an associate producer. Pictured is the film's star Tilda Swinton.

Continuing this policy, a hand-picked selection of 2011 releases will be given a second run between Christmas and New Year. These films do not appear in the Top 10, or even the Top 20 in terms of box office sales, but they are critically-acclaimed films which the Showroom has given its stamp of approval. Running from December 26-30 will be Animal Kingdom, A Separation, Incendies, Poetry, and Tomboy.

Another essential aspect of the Showroom are the festivals and special seasons it programmes. This year saw the return of Showcomotion: Young People’s Film Festival in May and the nationally-renowned Doc/Fest which moved from its usual November slot to take place in June. It was also best year yet for both the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival and Celluloid Screams Horror Film Festival. This month, the Showroom even invited a cherished regular cinemagoer, nonegenarian Dr Clifford Shaw, to select his favourite films to share.

The Showroom continues to work closely with the University of Sheffield to provide specialist film seasons, such as Black History Icons and Russian Film Week.

Sheffield Hallam University regularly teams up with the Showroom to provide Film Studies courses, which will continue in 2012 with Werner Herzog Film Bites and Medieval Tapestries: The Middle Ages on Film coming up in January.

As the New Year approaches, the film on everybody’s lips is The Artist, an affectionate ode to the end of the silent era and the dawn of talkies in Hollywood in the 1920s, shot entirely in black and white with no dialogue. It may not sound like an obvious box office hit but it is being tipped to win cinemagoers’ hearts and it looks set to give the Showroom an early boost for 2012.

That said, the Film Distributors Association are warning that 2012 is likely to be a much tougher year thanks to the recession and competition from such events as the Olympic Games and the Queen’s Jubilee.

The top ten

1 The King’s Speech

2 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

3 True Grit

4 Submarine

5 We Need to Talk About Kevin

6 Black Swan

7 Midnight in Paris

8 Never Let Me Go

9 The Guard

10 Wuthering Heights