Simple question: Does winning a Golden Globe for Best Picture have any impact on a movie’s bottom line at the box office? There’s the presumed Oscar bump for Best Picture winners, or at least there used to be when there were only five nominees. However, the Golden Globes have always had two Best Picture Winners (one for drama, another for comedy/musical) thus theoretically diminishing the marketing value of being able to say, “And this year’s winner for Best Picture [slight whisper] Drama [loud voice again] is The Revenant!”
So, congratulations to The Revenant and The Martian, this year’s winner for Best Comedy (because it’s such a laugh riot). Your respective wins last night might not mean anything, financially.
Except The Revenant literally just expanded wide this past weekend (and almost dethroned Star Wars: The Force Awakens), and The Martian is already the highest-grossing film of Ridley Scott’s career (second-highest of Matt Damon’s career). They don’t need your help, Hollywood Foreign Press Association. They’re doing just fine on their own
Things were different last year, though. Boyhood (Drama) and Grand Budapest Hotel (Comedy) surely received the coveted Golden Globes boost, assuming that’s actually a thing.
Except last year was weird. Both of those movies were already out on home video by the time the Golden Globes happened, Boyhood hitting DVD/Blu-Ray the week before and Grand Budapest seven months before. A week after their respective wins, Fox Searchlight upped Budapest’s theater total from 4 to 38 and IFC expanded Boyhood from 20 theaters to 136. That resulted in significant one-week percentage bumps (Boyhood‘s box office went up 1,003%, and Grand Budapest went up 753%) but weekend grosses were actually in the low thousands ($243K for Boyhood, $33K for Budapest). Neither film added more than $1m in additional box office in the entire Globes-Oscars awards period.
Okay. Fine. No real bump last year. What about the year before that? Well, then we’re talking about 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle, two far more traditional awards contenders in the sense that they each came out in the October-December window meaning they were each still in theaters by the time they became Golden Globe winners. The week after its win, American Hustle jumped 18.8% despite actually playing in 425 fewer theaters, giving it a weekend gross of $9.8m and a cumulative gross of $115.6m to that point. That was only its sixth weekend of release, and shortly thereafter it tied with Gravity for the most Oscar nominations, giving it the extra cache to power all the way through to a final gross of $150m.
Fox Searchlight (them again?) went the far more traditional route with 12 Years a Slave, leveraging the film’s Best Picture win to immediately expand from 114 theaters to 761, boosting its weekend box office from $270K to $1.53m in the process (a 469% increase). Prior to the Globes, 12 Years a Slave had a domestic gross of $38m; after the Globes win and ensuing Oscar nominations (and wins), it ended up with a gross of $56m.
Okay. Now we’re talking. The awards season probably helped those movies. The same goes for the winners from 2012, Argo and Les Miserables, which added $25m and $30m respectively to their overall domestic gross in the post-Globes win/Oscar nominations period of their theatrical runs. The year before that, The Descendents ultimately jumped from $47m dom. to $82m dom. in the period after its Globes win kicked off awards season, and The Artist, a platform release, finally expanded wide and rose from $8.7m to $44.6m before all was said and done.
Except in 2010 neither The Social Network nor The Kids Are Alright received any kind of awards bump. The former only added $2m to its total box office in the period after its Globes win, and the latter had been a summer movie. Focus Features didn’t even put Kids Are Alright back into theaters afters its big Globes win, opting to instead use the Globes notoriety to prop up its home video release, which was timed to fall one week after the awards show.
Here’s probably where this all falls apart. In 2009, the HFPA selected Avatar as the Best Drama, and The Hangover as the Best Comedy. The Hangover had come out on DVD one month prior to that and didn’t even bother with a theatrical re-release because it’s not the type of movie which is going to be boosted by awards. Plus, it had already made $277m dom. (on a $35m production budget!).
Avatar, on the other hand, was only into its fifth weekend when it won Best Drama. The weekend after its win, it made $34m, which sounds great but was actually a 18% decrease from the previous week. Still, it was at roughly $500m dom. prior to its Globes win, but after that it made it all the way up to $749m by the end of its theatrical run. Surely that’s the biggest bump of all time in terms of overall gross. However, how much of an impact do we actually think the Globes and eventually the Oscars had on Avatar‘s box office? For better or worse, it had already become a pop culture sensation. While there would likely be some who’d be influenced to give it a chance after the awards bodies elevated it above the status of mere blockbuster movie, it was going to make its money either way.
It’s a reminder that we’re ultimately just making correlations and guesses. In some cases, a film’s release pattern and overall box office take was unquestionably impacted by receiving an awards season stamp of approval. In others, the studios didn’t even bother to seek out additional box office and just used awards to prop up DVD sales. However, this is why, traditionally, the studios like to cluster awards bait at the end of the year. It’s not just to be the freshest movies on voters’ minds as they send in their ballots; it’s a calculated move to maximize their chances of being able to monetize awards wins and nominations. Whether or not that actually works, though, seems to be on a case-by-case basis, and because the Globes wins typically come the week before the Oscar nominations it’s difficult to single one out as having any more impact than the other.
So congratulations, The Revenant.
Eh. I don’t know. You’re probably fine, win or no win. From a box office standpoint, something like Carol, Room or Spotlight desperately needed it way more than you, the same way 12 Years a Slave needed it more than Gravity.