HFPA kudos is specialty pics' best chance at growing auds

It may not be the same as getting an Oscar, but a Golden Globes win (or even a nomination) can still boost a film’s box office potential.

Most often the Globes’ biggest beneficiaries come from the specialty market, especially pics in the musical or comedy category, for which the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. ceremony can be their best shot at kudos glory.

Last year, Sony Pictures Classics’ comedy “Barney’s Version,” which won acting honors for Paul Giamatti, saw considerable expansion in the weeks following the Globes ceremony.

The film grossed $7.5 million Stateside and wound up playing in a few hundred locations through the Oscars, even though it scored just one nomination (best makeup) from the Academy.

Fox Searchlight’s 2009 specialty hit, “Crazy Heart,” nabbed two trophies at the Globes, including an actor win for Jeff Bridges.

The studio added just 46 locations the weekend following the ceremony, but the pic saw a massive 109% uptick vs. the previous frame, earning more than $1 million for the first time in one weekend.

“Crazy Heart” went on to cume a stellar $39.5 million domestically — primarily a result of its eventual Oscar-winning run for star Bridges.

“That back-and-forth momentum really does affect your box office,” says an indie distrib exec, referring to the weeks between the Globes and Oscars. “If you play it strategically, you’re really exploiting your box office potential.”

“Precious” had a significant push after Mo’Nique won the 2009 Globes award for supporting actress. The film had been in theaters for more than a month, having already grossed almost $40 million by the weekend of the Globes. But Lionsgate capitalized on Mo’Nique’s win by expanding “Precious” the following Friday to its widest location count. The pic went on to cume $47.6 million.

Indies aren’t the only films to get B.O. boosts from the Globes.

Paramount timed its nationwide expansion of “The Fighter” to benefit from possible Globes recognition in 2010. The film went out at more than 2,000 locations on Dec. 17, just three days after it received six noms, including the best picture, drama category. “The Fighter” scored more than $12 million that weekend.

As with most major awards, the Globes sometimes don’t provide much B.O. benefit for nominees or winners that have already been released on homevideo.

Such was the case last year with Globes pic winners: Sony’s “The Social Network” and Focus Features’ “The Kids Are All Right.” Both hit DVD shelves the week before Globes noms were announced. (“Social Network” received six noms and won four; “Kids” scored four noms, winning two.)

“Social Network,” which cumed a solid $97 million, lost almost 800 playdates of its total 1,088 count the Friday following the Globes ceremony, while “Kids” — 2010′s top specialty player, with $20 million — had left theaters by mid-October, having first launched in early July.

Though Oscar will give a pic more bang, in the crowded fourth quarter, the Globes — as well as critics’ groups kudos — certainly can kickstart a golden B.O. run.

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