The Golden Globes are often seen as a trial run for the Oscars. Movie producers spend millions more promoting Oscar campaigns, and relatively little on the Globes. The Globes live up to this reputation to a point, but they are also much more significant.
As it turns out, Golden Globe awards result in a bigger box-office boost than Academy Award wins – $14.2 million per film, on average, versus $3 million, according to my statistical analysis. This might explain the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ decision last year to move its nomination announcements a few days ahead of the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 13.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the Golden Globe and Oscar races are not just about selling tickets to the films that win. The awards bring opportunities to the winners – and the unquantifiable gratification of victory. However, the total box-office effects of these awards number in the hundreds of millions, and figures like that cannot be ignored. So let’s dig in.
If we look at total box-office receipts for award-winning films over the past 12 years, we find that the Academy Award nominees contribute 27 percent of the total gross, whereas Golden Globe nominees contribute about 18 percent (with significant overlap between the two).
Here we can see the expected spike in Golden Globe and Oscar films during the Thanksgiving and winter holidays (weeks 46, 50 and 51). Even though the Academy Awards have a reputation for only rewarding November and December openings, the Globes’ effect is even greater.
As with the Oscar nominations, films nominated for Golden Globes tend to do far better at the box office than the average film. Again, Globe winners tend to outpace the nominees-only in every category but Original Song and Best Comedy. Not too surprisingly, the Animated Film category has attracted the highest-grossing films – encompassing two “Shreks,” “Rango” and nearly every Pixar film. But these results simply show the average outcomes of winners and nominees, not the effect of the win.
To calculate the box-office value of winning a Golden Globe and an Oscar, I started with all films that received an award nomination, no matter whether they went on to win or lose. Second, I factored out the date of release, so only nominees released the same number of months in advance of the Golden Globe (and Oscar) ceremonies were compared to the winners. Finally, I factored out the size of the film – so it became a comparison of the share of box-office gross earned before and after the Golden Globes and Oscars between nominees and winners, not a comparison of pure gross. The results are surprising.
It turns out that Golden Globes mean a great deal more than Academy Awards at the box office for winning films. A Golden Globe win is worth $14.2 million, on average (plus or minus $7.49 million), compared with $3 million (plus or minus $1.5 million) for an Oscar.
The cause isn’t certain, but there are two possibilities. The first is simply that, because Golden Globes occur earlier in the lifetime of the films they award, the impact of a Globe award is magnified. The second is that Golden Globes are in fact trial runs for the Oscar race, and films that get a nod in these trials end up getting massive free press as potential Oscar contenders. Both seem likely as contributing factors and are worth examining further.