Globe Nominations Are Gold for Media Companies

Early this morning, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominees for the 69th annual Golden Globe Awards, which will take place in Hollywood on Sunday, January 15.

It might be an honor just to get nominated, but more importantly, nominations translate into cold, hard cash. A major award nomination can bring to light obscure independent films that might have otherwise gone unnoticed by the public. One only need look to last year’s awards darling The King’s Speech, which was nominated for seven Golden Globes and twelve Oscars.

The King’s Speech opened in just four theaters on November 26, 2010, taking in $355,450 in its first weekend. At such a pace, the film didn’t stand to make back its $15 million production budget, but after receiving rave reviews and a pile of Golden Globe nominations, the film was released nationwide on Christmas day, and went on to earn $138.8 million in the U.S. alone.

The film swept the Oscars, winning four of the major categories: Best Achievement in Directing for Tom Hooper, Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Colin Firth, who also took home the Golden Globe, and Best Original Screenplay for David Seidler. It was a coup for the Weinstein Company, which ultimately distributed the film to 2,584 theaters across North America.

So what will be this year’s The King’s Speech? Right now, it looks to be a black-and-white silent film called The Artist, which garnered six Golden Globe nominations, the most of any film: Best Picture (Musical or Comedy); Best Director for Michel Hazanavicius; Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) for Jean Duardin; Best Supporting Actress for Berenice Bejo; Best Screenplay for Hazanavicius as well; and Best Original Score for Ludovic Bource.

The Artist opened in the U.S. in just four theaters on November 25, bringing in $204,878 in its first weekend. With a $15 million production budget and the Weinstein Company as its distributor, there’s no denying the comparisons to The King’s Speech. Its widest release to date was just sixteen theaters, with a domestic gross of just under $1 million. But the film has done well with foreign crowds, earning $13.8 million so far, and could soon be looking at the same sort of success in the U.S. that helped the creators of The King’s Speech earn back their investment tenfold.

It seems the Golden Globes are tailor-made for the underdogs — the films that might not have been seen if it weren’t for the recognition of the HFPA. Close behind The Artist on the nominations leaderboard is The Descendants with five nominations. The Descendants opened in just 29 theaters, and on the strength of Oscar buzz, clawed its way into 876 theaters for a domestic gross of $24.5 million, no big feat considering it stars George Clooney, who on name alone can ensure a film has a decent showing.

Another of Clooney’s films, The Ides of March, was also nominated. Clooney directed, produced, wrote, and acted in the political thriller, which also stars Oscar-winners Marisa Tomei and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Golden Globe-winner Jeffrey Wright, Golden Globe nominee Evan Rachel Wood, and Ryan Gosling, who was nominated for the Globe for his performance in The Ides of March, and has twice been nominated for a Globe in the past. He was also nominated for an Oscar in 2006 for his performance in Half Nelson, another indie that grossed just $2.7 million.

The Ides of March has been nominated for four Golden Globes, which should boost its domestic gross of $40.5 million. Rounding out the Globe’s leaderboard in terms of most nominations are The Help with five, Midnight in Paris and Moneyball with four, and Hugo with three.

Based on a best-selling novel, The Help did well in theaters, raking in $169.2 million after 124 days in theaters. Midnight in Paris also caught on with theatergoers, but only after getting a rocky start when the Woody Allen film opened in just six theaters on May 20. In its widest release, Midnight in Paris, distributed by Sony (NYSE:SNE), was showing in 1,038 theaters in North America, and after 206 days in theaters, has grossed just over $56 million, thanks to positive reviews and an all-star cast that includes Owen Wilson, who was nominated for Best Actor (Comedy or Musical), Marion Cotillard, and Rachel McAdams.

Sony’s Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, has done well enough for itself, grossing $71.2 million to date, while Hugo, which just opened over Thanksgiving weekend, has grossed a less impressive $34.5 million domestically. A family film, Hugo might have been expected to perform a bit better given its timing — a 4-day holiday weekend — and its wide distribution, opening in 1,277 theaters and then expanding to 2,608.

All of the above, excepting The Artist and Midnight in Paris, were nominated in the Motion Picture Drama category, as was Steve Spielberg’s War Horse, which won’t be released in theaters until December 25. The Artist and Midnight in Paris were nominated in the Motion Picture Comedy or Musical category, along with 50/50, Bridesmaids, and My Week With Marilyn.

Released in May by Universal (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Bridesmaids was a box office hit, grossing $169.1 million in its 20-week run as one of the best-performing R-rated comedies of the year. Summit Entertainment’s 50/50 had grossed $34.9 million domestically as of December 14.

The last Best Picture nominee is the Marilyn Monroe biopic, My Week With Marilyn. Distributed by the Weinstein Company, just like fellow nominee The Artist and last year’s big winner The King’s Speech, My Week With Marilyn opened in 244 theaters on November 23, and has since earned $5.4 million. Its nomination, especially if it results in a win, could allow the film to expand into more theaters, thus reaching more audiences.

When it comes to television, awards have less of an impact, especially for major networks, which are driven solely by advertising deals based on ratings. Given, someone watching the Golden Globes might be inspired to watch one of the nominated shows, but being nominated does not have the added perk of helping TV shows expand into more houses the way it helps movies expand to more theaters. Those shows are always just a click away.

In the television categories, Downton Abbey and Mildred Pierce both lead with four nominations, while Boardwalk Empire, Modern Family, The Hour, and Homeland each earned three nominations apiece.

Downton Abbey was produced by British media company Carnival Films for the ITV network, and airs in the U.S. on PBS, so there’s little money in its nomination, given that PBS is a non-profit network while most British are unlikely to pay any notice to the nominees of America’s version of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, or BAFTAs, at which Downton Abbey won two statues after being nominated for seven earlier this year.

Mildred Pierce, a 3-part miniseries created by HBO (NYSE:TWX), already cleaned up at the Emmys earlier this year, and may very well do the same at the Globes in January. Boardwalk Empire is also an HBO production, as is Game of Thrones, which was nominated for Best Television Series in the Drama category, and Englightened, which was nominated for Best Television Comedy or Musical. Star of Enlightened, Laura Dern, was also nominated this year for Best Actress in a Comedy.

Fox (NASDAQ:NWSA) did well with Glee being nominated in the Best Comedy or Musical Category, and new series New Girl being nominated in the same category, while its star, Zooey Deschanel, also received a nod in the Best Actress category.

NBC’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock were both nominated in the TV Comedy category, while stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were both nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy. ABC’s (NYSE:DIS) sole nominee is Modern Family, which took home five Emmy awards earlier this year and six last year. It has been nominated four times for the Golden Globes, but has yet to take home a single trophy.

CBS’s (NYSE:CBS) The Good Wife scored a nomination for its lead actress, Julianna Margulies, while The Big Bang Theory star┬áJohnny Galecki was nominated for Best Actor in a Comedy. CBS Corporation’s premium network, Showtime, also scored some nominations for The Borgias, Episodes, and Homeland.

The list of nominees, of course, goes on and on, while the list of snubbed shows and actors is even longer. Focus Features (NASDAQ:CMCSA) was no doubt miffed when Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy failed to secure a single nomination, while many are surprised that Ryan Gosling, who was nominated for his turn in both The Ides of March and Crazy, Stupid, Love, was not nominated for Drive, one of two FilmDistrict productions expected to secure nominations today, but ultimately coming up empty handed. The other film was The Rum Diary, starring Johnny Depp.