The Golden Globes are gone. Does Hollywood need a replacement?

Sam Mendes holds up the Golden Globes he won for "1917."
Sam Mendes hoists the two Golden Globes he won for “1917.” The wins gave the film a publicity boost as it opened in theaters.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Minutes after Tom Cruise announced he was boxing up his three Golden Globes and returning them to the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., NBC finally caved and announced it wouldn’t be airing the show next year, the logical and only possible conclusion to the months of controversy sparked by a Times investigation into the HFPA and its long history of self-dealing, racial inequity and general shamelessness.

What happens next? Will more Hollywood stars remove their Globes from mantels and put them into storage? What about five-time host Ricky Gervais, who once boasted about making practical use of his trophies: “One’s a doorstop, one I use to hit burglars with and one I keep by the bed to — doesn’t matter why.”

You can’t replace that kind of utility, can you?

That’s actually the question studios and streamers are asking right now: How do you replace a useful ceremony that in pre-pandemic times drew 18 million viewers and acted as a marketing springboard for awards season contenders as they arrived or continued playing in movie theaters?


Hollywood players continue to back away from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., with Warner Bros. joining Netflix and Amazon Studios in cutting ties.

May 10, 2021

Fact is, you can’t, which adds yet another challenge to the growing list of problems facing Hollywood’s beleaguered movie industry after a year of multiplex closures, films migrating to streaming platforms and an Oscars ceremony that failed to remind people that it might be a good idea to roll off their sofas, buy a ticket and a $10 tub of popcorn and return to the cinema.

Studios and personal publicists put up with the HFPA’s amateur-hour antics — the posing for pictures, the inappropriate questions that often bordered on sexual harassment (per Scarlett Johansson), the disinterest in Black-led projects — because the Golden Globes could boost careers and help open movies. Now that the ceremony is gone, for one year at least, possibly more unless the HFPA follows through on its promise to reform and essentially completely remake itself, Hollywood’s awards season will be without the show second only to the Oscars in ratings.

That’s a huge hole, as most movies vying for attention (and Oscars) during awards season make their mark at the box office during the ramp up to the Academy Awards. Studios have long shaped release campaigns around the Globes. Sam Mendes’ breathless war film “1917” arrived in more than 3,000 theaters five days after winning the 2020 Globe for best drama, earning $36.5 million in the wake of Mendes holding up the trophy. Accepting the best drama Globe three years earlier, “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins used the stage to thank his audience and urge it to spread the word: “All I have to say is, please, tell a friend, tell a friend, tell a friend.”

But people can’t tell their friends about movies if they haven’t seen them. Studios’ biggest hurdle leading up to the 94th Academy Awards, currently set for Feb. 27, will be to market and open would-be contenders from the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson (“Soggy Bottom”), Guillermo del Toro (“Nightmare Alley”) and Wes Anderson (“The French Dispatch”). Studio would-be blockbusters like Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “West Side Story” and “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao’s big-budget Marvel movie “The Eternals” won’t want for big advertising pushes. Indie contenders will be forced to get creative to build awareness.

Given the perennial cries of awards show fatigue and the ceremonies’ declining ratings, the erasure of the Globes could be harsh but needed medicine. Factions within the motion picture academy have long wanted to move the Oscars to earlier in the year, though any such shift would need to contend with the NFL playoff schedule and the Super Bowl. At the very least, the academy could bump up the ceremony to the mid-February date it had in 2020 and do a better job of turning its nominations announcement into a moment that might generate excitement about the films and performances. Make it a primetime special. Ask Oprah to host. Have her bring along Harry and Meghan for commentary.


It’s also possible that another group might look to capitalize on a (mortally?) wounded HFPA and shift its ceremony to the Globes’ regular second-weekend-of-January date. The Screen Actors Guild Awards, a televised show owning most of the elements of the Globes — honors for both film and television, banquet setting, vegan dinner — would be a logical choice, though its ratings have never exactly been stellar. SAG-AFTRA too seems relatively disinterested in boosting the ceremony’s profile, perhaps because it’s a union and sees its mission more as fighting for members’ benefits than throwing a self-congratulatory evening.

The HFPA has come under pressure for not having any Black members as well as allegations of ethical and financial lapses raised in a Times investigation.

April 21, 2021

Still, why wouldn’t SAG-AFTRA want more eyes on its show? I asked about a potential date shift and a spokesperson responded: “With 129,000+ eligible voters, the SAG Awards has the largest, most influential voting body on the awards circuit. We know how meaningful this recognition is to actors, and look forward to announcing the SAG Awards 2022 date soon.” Zzzzzzzzz.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Critics Choice Awards, handed out by the Critics Choice Assn., a group consisting primarily of junket press and regional TV entertainment anchors. As with the HFPA, its members like to take selfies with celebrities. Also like the HFPA, the Critics Choice Assn. allows studios to pay for its members’ airfare and high-end hotel stays during lavish promotional junkets.

“Their name is misleading — they’re not critics, most of them, anyway,” sniffs a veteran awards consultant who has dealt with the group. “In the wake of all this stuff with the HFPA, they would need to put in some stricter checks and balances into their bylaws if they ever wanted to be taken seriously.”

As the Critics Choice Awards have struggled to draw even 1 million viewers on the CW, it might not matter. You can’t simply sub any awards show into the Globes’ date and expect people to watch. And with audiences shifting away (fleeing?) from live TV, you can’t expect people to watch, period. That’s what Hollywood has to contend with right now, and the solution could be years in the making.