By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Movie studio The Weinstein Company and cable network HBO led rival companies at the Golden Globe nominations on Thursday, giving their movies and TV shows a measure of prestige that should lure audiences.
The Weinstein Co, run by Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob, received 12 Golden Globe nominations from voters at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for its films including "The Artist" and "My Week with Marilyn." Both earned nods for best film comedy or musical.
"The Artist" maker Michel Hazanavicius received nods for and directing and his screenplay, and actress Michelle Williams was acknowledged in the best actress in a film comedy or musical category for her role as screen siren Marilyn Monroe.
Among movie studios, Sony Pictures Classic followed Weinstein Co. with 10 Golden Globe nominations including Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," which has become his highest box office-grossing film yet in the U.S. with nearly $60 million.
"Woody just keeps surprising people," said Tom Bernard, co-founder and co-president of Sony Pictures Classic. "It's a great time for the nominations because the DVD comes out next week and it will still be in the theaters, it's sort of the perfect storm for the film's distribution," added Bernard.
Indeed, award nominations -- more than the awards themselves -- often lure people to theaters as they bring media exposure and help build good word-of-mouth publicity.
Martin Scorsese's expensive 3D film "Hugo," which to date has only earned $34 million in the United States, also should get a lift from Thursday's three Golden Globe nominations, including best film drama and director for Scorsese.
"I'm hoping people will pick up on the HFPA" nods, said "Hugo" producer Graham King. "Word-of-mouth has been great and critics have been great."
As much as nominations help DVD sales and lure film fans to box offices, they also give exposure to TV shows looking to increase their audience size.
In the TV arena, cable network HBO trumped its competitors with 18 nominations, led by 1930's miniseries "Mildred Pierce," prohibition era TV drama "Boardwalk Empire," Wall Street financial drama "Too Big to Fail" and "Cinema Verite," a drama based on the making of a documentary.
"To have our name mentioned on a telecast like the Golden Globes Awards as being indicative of excellence is very powerful," said Mike Lombardo, programming president at HBO.
For premium cable networks such as HBO and Showtime that charge subscription fees, award recognition can lead to a positive impact in viewership.
"What does matter over time is the perception that original programming on HBO is important, distinctive and something worth paying for, so to that end, the Golden Globes are important," said Lombardo.
HBO was followed by cable network Showtime with 8 nods led by new show, the psychological thriller "Homeland," while PBS, ABC and BBC America boosted their profile with nods for period drama "Downton Abbey," comedy series "Modern Family" and newsroom drama "The Hour," respectively.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)