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The Golden Globes will be televised this year after a one-year hiatus. MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images

Can the return of the Golden Globes boost movie ticket sales?

Janet Nguyen Dec 15, 2022
The Golden Globes will be televised this year after a one-year hiatus. MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images

The Golden Globes awards ceremony, after a one-year hiatus, is making a return to television in January after being mired in a series of scandals ranging from allegations of corruption to a lack of diversity. 

In the past, winning accolades during awards season has helped translate to higher box office or DVD sales, but now the Golden Globes has to contend with declining viewership, controversies over its voting practices and a lack of diversity within its voting body, and celebrities who have yet to acknowledge their nominations. 

In response to the backlash, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (which votes on the awards) said that it’s added more than 100 new members. The HFPA has also released demographic data on its voting pool, which it says is “52% female, 51.5% racially and ethnically diverse, with 19.5% Latinx, 12% Asian, 10% Black and 10% Middle Eastern,” according to Variety.  

Last year, former HFPA president Meher Tatna revealed that it hadn’t had a Black journalist in its voting body for two decades

The HFPA was also allegedly involved in ethical conflicts  according to a lawsuit filed by an entertainment journalist, with the group accepting “thousands of dollars in emoluments,” reported the Los Angeles Times.  

The Los Angeles Times wrote that in 2019, more than 30 HFPA members flew to France to visit the set of the Netflix series “Emily in Paris.” Paramount Network accommodated them with a two-night stay at a Paris hotel, whose prices start at $1,400 a night, along with other perks. 

Actor Brendan Fraser, who was nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama this year for his role in “The Whale,” recently said he would not be attending the ceremony. In 2018, he alleged that former former HFPA president Philip Berk sexually assaulted him back in 2003. 

“It’s because of the history that I have with them,” he said in an interview with GQ. “And my mother didn’t raise a hypocrite. You can call me a lot of things, but not that.”

After the nominations were announced, individual nominees largely avoided acknowledging them, although the brand accounts for projects such as “Only Murders in the Building” tweeted the news, according to IndieWire. 

Receiving accolades has often helped films financially — some Academy Award winners, for example, receive what’s known as the “Oscar bump,” wrote Marketplace’s Jana Kasperkevic back in 2019. “Moonlight,” for example, earned an extra $2.5 million at the box office a week after it won Best Picture in 2017, according to Vanity Fair. 

Back in 2013, Reuters said a Golden Globe win resulted in an average box-office boost of $14.2 million per film on average. 

Data analyst Edmund Helmer, who crunched the numbers for the news organization, wrote that while the cause isn’t clear, there were a couple of possibilities for this bump. The Golden Globes are awarded earlier, potentially magnifying its impact, and the ceremony is a trial run for the Oscars. “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,” Helmer wrote. 

Karie Bible, a film historian and media analyst with Exhibitor Relations Co., said that perceptions of the Golden Globes in the past were “a mixed bag.” 

“The Golden Globes were often seen as a joke,” Bible said. “It’s a ploy to get major stars in attendance. That having been said, it was also considered kind of a kickoff to Oscar season.” 

Back in the day, an award win might equal a wider release and more press — which could in turn lead to more ticket sales, Bible said. 

Gemma Puglisi, an assistant professor of public communication at American University, also pointed out that the Globes split some of the awards into different genres, awarding actors and films in both the drama and musical/comedy categories. 

“They give more opportunities for those actors and the movies,” Puglisi said. “So those extra categories help get publicity for an actor or film that we really weren’t aware of.” 

Amy Shanler, an associate professor of public relations at Boston University, said while there is “a bit of trepidation” surrounding the event, she said the HFPA has taken steps to reform its practices, including an increase in representation among its voting body. She added there are also some viewers at home who are unaware of the scandals that have plagued the ceremony and the voting body. 

Catherine Paura — co-founder and former CEO of the firm National Research Group, which has served Hollywood studios by providing them with critical tracking data — said while a winning Golden Globes or Oscar movie could boost box office in the past, she thinks these awards shows have become less and less relevant over time. 

Although the Academy Awards saw a rise in viewership this year, audience numbers have generally been dwindling. In 2021, viewership for the Academy Awards dropped to 10.4 million from 23.6 million and its key 18-49 demographic saw a 60% decline. Golden Globes’ viewership that same year dropped to 6.9 million viewers from 18.4 million, with a 68% drop in the 18-49 demographic. 

Paura said she thinks many of the people who pay attention to these shows belong to an older crowd who have been going to the movies less frequently since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

“I think the financial impact is diminished,” she said. 

Part of the reason she thinks there’s been a decline in interest in the awards shows over the years is that they used to be the opportunity to get a glimpse of celebrities.

“They’d be glamorous and wonderful and mysterious and enigmatic to the nth degree,” Paura said. “I think that the mystique, the mystery and the glamor of it all is diminished.” Celebrities are now accessible on platforms like Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, providing followers with a constant peek into their lives. 

Bible said she thinks it’s going to take a long time for the Golden Globes to rehabilitate their image. 

“I don’t think they’ve had enough time to really show the world they have completely done a 180-degree reversal in their behavior,” Bible said.

Could not attending the ceremony actually end up boosting a celebrity’s image? 

Shanler said she thinks the decision to refrain attending the ceremony will neither help nor harm someone’s reputation. 

“I think the emphasis is going to be on who is choosing to go and what kind of credibility that will give to the organization,” Shanler said. “It’s more about: What will attendance and participation from the industry mean for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association?” 

Bible said that “it’s a tricky situation” for potential attendees. 

“You don’t want to do something that’s going to backfire on you. You don’t want to show up to a ceremony where people aren’t really ready to re-embrace it yet,” she said, adding that she respects Brendan Fraser’s decision “tremendously.”

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