Awards show now a high-profile player

Marketing and publicity departments are already incorporating Golden Globe noms hype into their newspaper and television ads, hoping to pique the interest of moviegoers on the fence.

A decade ago, a Globe nomination was thought to have almost no influence when it came to boosting box office. That was a benefit reserved for the Oscar process. But that has changed as the Globes have become a high-profile awards player.

Leading with seven Globe nominations, including best drama, Focus Features’ “Atonement,” which opened at the domestic box office last weekend and expands Friday, stands to be the biggest beneficiary. In fact, Focus devised its release strategy around the Globe announcement. Film grossed $800,459 in its debut from 32 locations for a sterling per location average of $25,014, one of the best on record for that number of screens.

“It injects momentum,” said Focus prexy of distribution Jack Foley. “The reality is that the Golden Globes have grown more valuable with regard to popping box office. ‘Brokeback Mountain’ got a boost.”

Other films that are still early enough in their runs to benefit from Globe noms include Fox Searchlight’s “Juno,” which opened last weekend, and Miramax’s “No Country for Old Men,” which has become the most successful specialty film of the fall, grossing $30 million through Wednesday.

“Juno” grossed $413,869 from seven theaters in its bow for a boffo per screen average of $59,124.

Films nabbing one or more Globe noms that haven’t opened yet include Paramount Vantage’s “The Kite Runner” (Dec. 14), Universal’s “Charlie Wilson’s War” (Dec. 21), DreamWorks-Warners’ musical “Sweeney Todd” (Dec. 21), Paramount Vantage’s “There Will Be Blood” (Dec. 25) and the MGM-Weinstein Co.’s “The Great Debaters” (Dec. 25). These films will be able to easily incorporate the nominations into their campaigns.

Distrib and marketing execs universally agree that titles that are well into their theatrical runs — i.e., Warner Bros.’ “Michael Clayton” and Universal’s “American Gangster” –won’t get much of a Golden Globe bump. “Gangster,” with a cume of $126. 3 million through Wednesday, is the highest grossing film of the fall at the domestic box office. “Clayton” has cumed $38.8 million domestically.

Films that are just being released on DVD are sure to leverage any Globe noms. On Tuesday, 20th Century Fox releases “The Simpson’s Movie” on DVD. Toon earned a nom in the musical/animated category. On Dec. 26, Universal releases “Eastern Promises,” nominated for best drama, on DVD.

Two films already out on DVD, “Hairspray” and “Ratatouille,” could be the most immediate beneficiaries on the DVD side. Even before it got its three noms “Hairspray” was showing great legs on DVD, and New Line expects the nods to boost sales further. The mini-major will run a TV ad touting the noms, and playing up the holiday gift buying angle, this weekend.

Likewise, Vantage’s “A Mighty Heart” could see a bump in DVD sales.

Some gripe that the Globe nominations are diluted by the fact that there are two best picture categories. A total of 12 films landed in the drama and comedy/musical categories.

“You flip through the newspaper and see all these films advertising they’ve been nominated for best picture. Still, getting a Globe nomination is certainly a plus. It’s not clear it makes a material difference at the box office, but it can have an incremental difference,” one specialty unit exec said. “Between all the critics lists and the Golden Globes, there can be a cumulative effect.”

(Diane Garrett contributed to this report.)

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