Golden Globes, Oscars Can Greenlight Sales

LOS ANGELES (TheStreet) -- It's lovely that the Golden Globe Awards and Academy Awards give film fans a red-carpet respite from a gray winter, but can they move product?

The answer the movie industry would love to hear this awards season is yes, as home entertainment sales have been as depressing as Black Swan for the past half-decade or so. According to Digital Entertainment Group, home entertainment sales and rentals brought in $18.8 billion last year, down from $19.4 a year earlier and part of a steady decline from a peak of $21.8 billion in 2004.

The Social Network, the story of the creation of Facebook, made its DVD and Blu-ray debut last week, but a slew of Golden Globe wins Sunday doesn't guarantee sales.

Golden Globes favorite and presumed Academy Awards nominee The Social Network made its DVD and Blu-ray debut last week, but sadly it could have received more exposure by being posted to Sony ( SNE)-held Columbia Pictures' Facebook page. DVD sales and rental revenue fell 11%, to $14 billion. While Blu-ray sales were up 53%, to $2.3 billion, and Nielsen VideoScan found that Blu-ray market share had grown from 8% of all home video in February to 22% in the first week of this year, results have been unpredictable -- with market share jumping to 22% for the release of Avatar in April to 9% when television-show box set sales dominated in August. Some shows aren't available on Blu-ray.

So do the awards have any impact? It depends on the award and the film. After winning Best Animated Feature Film honors at last year's Golden Globes, Disney's ( DIS) Up saw a sales bump from $1.3 million before the ceremony to nearly $1.4 million the week afterward -- yet sold 3,000 fewer units in the same stretch, according to Nash Information Services, showing an incentive to buy without discounts. The bro comedy The Hangover, meanwhile, actually saw sales decline more than 20% after taking home the Golden Globe for Best Movie or Comedy.

With the exception of The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds -- which were released weeks before the Golden Globes and saw sales slump 57% and 32% respectively after the Golden Globes were handed out -- most of the award-worthy fare bypassed the Golden Globes and the February Academy Award nominations altogether in favor of DVD and Blu-ray release dates to just after the Oscars. The one exception -- the Coen brothers' Best Picture-nominated A Serious Man -- failed to crack the top 10 when it was released just after the nominations in early February and fell off the chart completely a week later.

The week the Oscar nominations were announced, however, Best Picture nominees that had been lingering on the video sales charts for weeks took the news in their own way. Hurt Locker sales dropped more than 35% and Inglourious Basterds sales slumped by more than 6%. Up saw its sales balloon 26.8% after becoming only the second animated film in history to get a Best Picture nod (the other being 1991's Beauty and the Beast). Up followed that success by selling more than four times as many copies the next week and bringing in more than $6 million in additional revenue.

As buzz began to build around Hurt Locker in the two weeks before the Academy handed out its hardware, though, the drama's sales grew by more than 90% and surpassed those of Up by nearly $1 million in the week before the awards show.

"Academy Award nominations are always going to help DVD and Blu-ray sales of the film," says John Farr, editor of movie industry site Best Movies By Farr. "Is there a big advantage to putting out your DVD of a film after it's won an Academy Award? Yeah, it's big."

In the case of Hurt Locker, which took home Best Picture, it was huge. Sales surged 189.5% in the week after the film and director Kathryn Bigelow accepted the Academy's biggest prizes, raking in $5.5 million -- or nearly a third of the $16 million it made in the two months prior. The runners-up didn't do so shabbily, either, as Precious' awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Mo'Nique led to $12 million in sales and a first-place debut in the week after the ceremony.

Best Picture nominee Up In The Air, meanwhile, didn't fare so badly with a $9 million DVD and Blu-ray debut the same week, and Up saw sales increase 78% to add another $2 million to its take. After dropping off the charts altogether, the other Best Picture hopefuls -- Serious Man, District 9 and Inglourious Basterds -- returned to the Top 30, with the win of Basterds' Christopher Waltz for Best Supporting Actor translating to another $1 million in sales for Quentin Tarantino's bit of revisionist World War II history.

Will the same hold true this year? With Social Network, Inception, Alice in Wonderland, Red and The Kids Are All Right among the Golden Globe winners and also-rans available on disc and download -- Social Network took Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Score -- the next week will tell. If history's any indication, however, the sales surge won't start until Oscar gets his say.

--Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet.com. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.

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