Golden Globe nominations boost underdogs
By Carl DiOrio
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Golden Globe nominations seldom lead to the big box-office bounce that Oscar contenders can enjoy, but positive media attention can help limited releases mount successful expansions.
Movie theater owners suddenly become more willing to free up screens to such pictures, and moviegoers take notice of smaller films that otherwise might get lost in the crowded holiday marketplace.
In the wake of Tuesday's Golden Globe nominations announcement, three best-picture nominees are particularly well positioned to bask in the afterglow:
-- Summit Entertainment on Friday will re-expand "The Hurt Locker," the Iraq War drama that drew three nominations 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 drama, which led the field with six nominations, will open nationally on December 23.
-- The Weinstein Co. will make the most of the five nominations for "Nine" when Rob Marshall's musical opens Friday in a handful of bicoastal locations before expanding wide December 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."
Weinstein's release of "Nine" follows the pattern company principals Bob and Harvey Weinstein 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 and directors of Globe-nominated foreign-language films also appreciate the chance of extra attention.
Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore was nominated for his autobiographical drama "Baaria," which does not have a domestic distributor.
"These kinds of prestigious award nominations give films extra visibility," Tornatore said.
Sony Pictures Classics' drama "The Last Station" is set to debut domestically January 15 after drawing a pair of acting nominations.
"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 picture 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 release called "Avatar," which opens worldwide this weekend.
"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."