Co-prods muddle studio tallies

Contractual, budgetary factors create shared films

HOLLYWOOD — The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. tallied up which studios got the most Golden Globe nominations, but even the studios were confused by the conclusions.

For example, the org gave Sony Pictures seven noms, with another five for Columbia and one for TriStar. A freelance publicist called to dispute the figures, but a Sony rep came up with entirely different numbers. It was unclear who was credited for the three for Sony Pictures Classics, and no one could find any noms on the list for the now-defunct TriStar.

Universal disputed its HFPA tally, and others were unsure why some Sony branches were separated, while Paramount and Paramount Classics were lumped together.

The exercise points up the futility these days of studio tallies. Part of the problem is shared films. Due to contractual or budgetary considerations, many of the pics boast two studios: “All the Pretty Horses” (Miramax-Columbia), “Almost Famous” (DreamWorks-Col), “Cast Away” (Fox-DreamWorks), “Erin Brockovich” (Universal-Col), “Gladiator” (DreamWorks-U), “Meet the Parents” (U-DreamWorks), “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (Touchstone-U).

In each case, the domestic distributor is listed before the international distrib. In some cases, the HFPA appeared to have given the totals for such films to both studios.

Another confusing issue is “independent” status. Many pundits will undoubtedly trumpet the triumph of the “indies” this year, but that word is elusive. Sony Pictures Classics, Paramount Classics and Fine Line did well, but all of them have ties to the majors.

DreamWorks and Miramax are not counted as majors, but they are certainly mega-minors.

Of the true indies, USA Films easily led the pack with six noms; otherwise, Lions Gate, Village Roadshow, Alta Vista, Artisan and Pathe saw eight combined.

Scott Greenstein, chairman of USA Films (which got five noms for “Traffic,” and another for “Nurse Betty”), said, ” ‘Traffic’ was obviously a tough movie to pull together and I’m grateful people are rallying behind it. We’re in a unique position: You rarely get to open a movie with such accolades ahead of the opening.” The film bows Dec. 27 in a limited run, and will launch on “well north of 1,000 screens” on Jan. 5.

He praised Soderbergh’s “undying, uncompromising vision — we’re grateful that others recognize that vision, and we’re thrilled for USA Films to be a part of this.”

Paramount Classics’ David Dinerstein enthused, “This is huge for us! We couldn’t be happier.” The company, which will celebrate its third birthday in February, got three noms for “Sunshine” and two for “You Can Count on Me.” Dinerstein’s co-prexy, Ruth Vitale, said they’re especially pleased at the recognition of “our first year for a full slate of pictures.”

Kudos “gets the film out to places that may not have heard about it, helps them cross over to a wider audience,” Dinerstein said.

Vitale admitted, “It’s a tough time of the year,” but the nods will help “You Can Count” hopefully “get some additional playing dates.”

As for “Sunshine,” she hopes it will mean “a second life for this film.”

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