Data shows Golden Globe wins result in bigger box-office boosts than Academy Awards. But movie producers spend far more on their Oscar campaigns.
The Golden Globes are often seen as a trial run for the Oscars. Movies 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 wins 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 about much more than 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 are worth exploring. So let's dig in.
THE FILM LANDSCAPE
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 Globes and Oscars 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.
THE AWARD BUMP
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 immediate 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. Although Golden Globes appear to create a larger bump, it may only be because they lead into the Oscars. Both seem likely as contributing factors and are worth examining further.
Edmund Helmer is the founder of BoxOfficeQuant.com, a site analyzing film industry statistics.
All film data is from the-numbers.com and boxofficemojo.com. Rereleases (usually in 3D) such as "Finding Nemo" and "Polar Express" were included, as they were relevant to the question. The plus-or-minus range on the estimates of value were calculated with bootstrapped samples, a statistical method is commonly used to estimate "extra-sample error." Essentially, the technique says there was some random chance involved in selecting winners and nominees, so let's roll those dice again and again and see if the results hold even in the face of chance. The plus-or-minus figure represents the space in which 95 percent of those results lie, so you can be certain with statistical significance that the value is within that range.
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