January 7, 2010 / 4:35 AM / 8 years ago

Some films are still waiting for an awards bounce

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Conventional wisdom holds that the movies getting the biggest boost during awards season aren't the studio blockbusters, but rather the smaller films that need kudos to put them on ticket buyers' radar.

This season is different.

The major studio fare is taking advantage of Golden Globes attention and a number of specialty releases -- so far, at least -- have failed to capitalize on the recognition.

Fox has jumped on the critical praise for its $367 million-plus "Avatar," heavily promoting the film's four Globe nominations in a way typically reserved for art-house fare. Similarly, studio releases, from "It's Complicated" (Universal) to "Up in the Air" (Paramount) to "Sherlock Holmes" and "The Blind Side" (both from Warner Bros.), have emphasized Globes nods in ad campaigns. Each of those movies played strongly over the holidays.

On the other hand, several smaller films have not yet seen the so-called "Globes bounce."

Lionsgate had hoped the attention for "Precious" would lure audiences as the critics' darling expanded from 650 to 1,000 theaters during the holidays. Instead, the drama grossed only $1.1 million the weekend after it scored three Globe nominations. This past weekend, it earned $924,000, taking its total to $43 million.

Similarly, the Weinstein Co.'s "Nine" scored five Globe nominations, and opened impressively in New York and Los Angeles. But its national expansion the following weekend mustered up only $5.4 million. This past weekend, it dropped to $3.9 million. Sales to date stand at $13.7 million.

Even Summit's re-release of its critically lauded "The Hurt Locker" on 125 screens the weekend after it scored three Globes nominations grossed only $75,000. Its total box office haul stands at $12.7 million.

As the season gets going, several of the more-specialized releases earning Globes praise -- including Apparition's "The Young Victoria," Fox Searchlight's "Crazy Heart" and Weinstein's "A Single Man" -- are being positioned to play through the winter as kudos pile up. That's especially true this year because the Academy Awards fall on March 7, later than in recent years.

"That's the ultimate, to be in the marketplace through the nominations and the show," says Tom Bernard, co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, which has "An Education" and "The Last Station," as well as three of the Globes-nominated best foreign-language films.

"Then, if you have a movie that wins, especially if it's a surprise to the mainstream audience, it moves people in -- as happened with 'Capote' (in 2006) when Philip Seymour Hoffman won. That put the movie into another category."

Already in another category is "Up in the Air," which used its leading six Globes nominations to promote an expansion to nearly 2,000 theaters over the holidays. Its haul stood at $25 million heading into New Year's; it's now at $44 million.

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