Awards Watch: Golden Globes preview


One of the surprises when the Golden Globes nominations were handed out in December 2008 was the attention given "The Reader," a Holocaust drama that earned nominations for best picture, director, screenplay and actress Kate Winslet.

Although the film was not an overwhelming critical favorite, the Weinstein Co.'s strategy of opening it in limited release the weekend of the Globes announcement was prescient. It racked up more than $21,000 per screen in eight theaters that first weekend, jumping 615% to $1.2 million two weeks later and another 140% to $3.6 million two weeks after that.

"The Golden Globes is the first big awards nomination that comes in and it's a great platform," says David Glasser, the Weinstein Co.'s president of international distribution. "They look at a picture early and it says, 'Hey, this is worth rooting for.' "

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The Globes noms for "Reader" set it on a path to more than $100 million in worldwide boxoffice, an impressive achievement for any drama, especially one with such a difficult theme. Winslet also ended up winning an Oscar for best actress.

The timing of the Globes noms -- just as awards season is kicking into high gear and before the all-important holiday moviegoing season -- has made the 90-member Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. hugely influential. But just how much is a Globes nomination worth?

It's hard to quantify, but for a film that is positioned properly after the noms are announced, as "The Reader" was, or expanded to many more theaters after the exposure on the January telecast, there is clearly a major benefit.

That was the case for "Capote" in 2006. Even though the film scored only one Globes nomination, for Philip Seymour Hoffman as lead actor (drama), the film's boxoffice take rose 50% in the week leading up to the show and then jumped 70% the week after Hoffman won, when Sony Pictures Classics tripled its screens.

"It causes your film to really hold up," says SPC co-president Michael Barker. Still, he cautions, "I don't think it could ever cause your film to go into the stratosphere like the Oscars."

"The figures speak for themselves," insists Philip Berk, president of the HFPA. "If a film opens around the time we announce our Golden Globes nominations it has either a bigger-than-expected opening or a huge jump from the previous week. That is why the studios use the Golden Globes as a marketing tool, which is self-evident. It definitely works to their advantage."

The Globes noms and winners also set the tone for the Academy Awards nominations because the Oscar polls close about at week after the Globes winners are announced.

"It sets an agenda," says Bob Berney, whose Apparition launched "The Young Victoria" on the Friday after this year's Globes noms were revealed and the film's star Emily Blunt was nominated for best actress (drama). "It becomes a kind of editor. If you (are an awards voter and) have a pile of DVDs waiting, it says, 'Yeah, that one first.' It calls attention at a time there are a lot of movies coming out."

"People are busy in their own lives and jobs and the Globes nominations come at a time (mid-December) when you're starting to slow down and focus a little bit," says Megan Colligan, co-president of marketing at Paramount. "It also calls out to a consumer that this is a quality way to spend two hours at the movies during the holiday season."

Colligan, like her colleagues at other studios, was quick to tout the six Globes noms earned by Paramount's "Up in the Air" in advance of its Dec. 23 wide release. The Weinstein Co. did the same for its Globes contenders "Nine" and "A Single Man," both of which debuted right after receiving multiple Globes noms.

"A thought process went into the release dates of those movies," Glasser says. "They weren't just plopped there. They were put down to say, 'We're going to roll into the awards and hopefully, if we're right, it will gain momentum and play through the holiday, the awards season and beyond.' "

Chuck Walton, editor and senior content manager at the movie Web site Fandango, says even with the proliferation of awards shows in recent years, the Globes and the Oscars stand out with consumers. "Those two shows in particular get buzz -- especially on the Internet. With 'Slumdog Millionaire' last year and 'Juno' the year before, we definitely saw an uptick (from Globes noms)."

In a December online poll, Fandango asked potential ticket buyers: "If the Golden Globes recognize a particular movie (or performance in a movie) with an award nomination, are you more likely to see that film?" Of more than 2,000 who responded, 64% said it would.

"Nominations can help put a movie over the top (at the boxoffice)," Walton adds. "Not receiving those nominations, for certain pictures, means (they're) going to sell less tickets."
The nominations also have a huge impact outside the U.S.

"Don't forget, this show is carried around the world and a lot of people who like movies pay attention and then watch the show," says Tom Bernard, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, which is competing with Carey Mulligan in "An Education" and Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren in "The Last Station," in addition to having three of the best foreign-language film nominees.

"We've had a lot of movies that were in the race all the way back to 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' and 'Howards End,' " Bernard adds. "The nominations and awards create more interest in wanting to see the film, and that's what you want."

The HFPA's Berk boasts that a Globes nom -- and especially a win -- can be even more helpful to the careers of the performers.

"Aaron Eckhart will acknowledge that our nomination for 'Thank You for Smoking' (in 2005) definitely gave him opportunities he didn't think he would ever have had," Berk says. "And Emily Blunt, after being nominated for 'Devil Wears Prada' (2006) got a career boost."

Paul Dergarabedian, boxoffice analyst for, says that while a Globes nom can boost grosses, an Oscar nomination or win still makes a greater impact.

"The reason a picture gets an Oscar bounce is that often, in reaction to a lot of nominations, a studio will put that film in a lot more theaters if it's still playing, or they will reissue it," Dergarabedian says. "I don't think they react as strongly to Globe nominations."

The Globes help limited-release movies most. David Fenkel of indie film producer-distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories says that was the case last year when Michelle Williams was nominated for "Wendy and Lucy."

Even for films that opened earlier in the year, a Globes nom can have value. When timed right, it can boost the home video release. That is potentially the case this year for Summit Entertainment's "The Hurt Locker," Fox Searchlight's "(500) Days of Summer" and the Weinstein Co.'s "Inglourious Basterds," all of which were released on DVD close to when the noms were announced. "The nominations are a reminder that it was a great movie," Walton says, "and just as worthy as some of the movies being considered which were released late in the year."

That was the case for Marion Cotillard in the 2007 French-language "La vie en rose," for which she won both the Golden Globe and Oscar.

"We had opened that movie in June and everyone was saying, 'It's too early. You won't get (award voters to) focus,' " Berney recalls. "But she was then an unknown actress and, having the film there all summer, people got to know her. Then the DVD came out right when the award season was starting and reminded everyone -- and it worked very well."