Globe nominees poised for boxoffice boost

'Up in the Air,' 'Hurt Locker,' 'Nine' should gain attention

This alchemy might turn gold into ink as several Golden Globes nominees should be able to convert acclaim into free publicity.

There's seldom a big boxoffice bounce from Globes noms of the sort Oscar nominees can enjoy, but positive media attention from Globes recognition can help platform releases mount successful expansions.

Exhibitors suddenly become more willing to free up screens to such pics. Moviegoers take notice of smaller films that otherwise might get lost in the crowded holiday marketplace.

This year, three best-pic nominees are particularly well positioned to bask in the Globes afterglow:

-- Summit on Friday will re-expand "The Hurt Locker," the Iraq War drama that drew three noms including best director for Kathryn Bigelow, adding 81 U.S. playdates for a total of 90.

-- Paramount will use nominations for best director (Jason Reitman) and dramatic actor (George Clooney) along with best motion picture drama to market "Up in the Air" as it continues an incremental rollout of the film, which played in 72 domestic locations this past weekend.

-- The Weinstein Co. will make the most of the five noms for "Nine" when Rob Marshall's musical opens Friday in a handful of bicoastal locations before expanding wide Dec. 25.

Summit distribution boss Richie Fay welcomed the Globes spotlight.

"It takes what some people might call a little picture and elevates it into a bigger picture," Fay said. "It commercializes a film like 'The Hurt Locker' and brings it to the attention of more people -- which, of course, is what this business is all about."

The Weinstein Co.'s release of "Nine" follows the pattern it used for 2002's "Chicago," the eventual best picture Oscar winner. "It worked the last time," Harvey Weinstein said, "and ('Nine' director) Rob Marshall said to me, 'Harvey, if it's not broken, don't fix it.' "

Distributors of foreign-language films drawing Globes noms also will appreciate the chance for extra attention from the accolades.

Summit is handling international distribution for the Globes-nominated "Baaria," an autobiographical drama from Italian helmer Giuseppe Tornatore, best known for his 1988 awards favorite "Cinema Paradiso." No domestic distributor has picked up rights to the film.

"These kinds of prestigious award nominations give films extra visibility," Tornatore said.

Indeed, just about any distributor handling an art film -- almost always debuted in limited release and expanded in direct proportion to positive word-of-mouth -- will welcome the opportunity to tout Globes noms in marketing materials.

Sony Pictures Classics' drama "The Last Station" is set to debut domestically Jan. 15 after drawing a pair of acting noms.

"You come to realize the incredible importance of it for a film like 'The Last Station,' which doesn't have a big budget for marketing," said Helen Mirren, nominated with co-star Christopher Plummer.

Meanwhile, it appears that no pic is too big to bask in the Globes spotlight as marketing mavens seek to lure patrons.

"It could be very helpful for this film," said James Cameron, nominated for directing a little upcoming release called "Avatar." "Awards help draw attention to smaller films that don't have a marketing budget," he said. "But for us, I think this could help with people's perception of the film. I don't know how many times after a screening someone would come up to me and say, 'I didn't know what to expect.' You want people to have some sense of what a film is before they go to see it."