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Emerson Lecturer’s New Book Gives the Lowdown on Oscar Buzz

Owen Eagan headshot

What determines a film’s success? A well-crafted script? Oscar-worthy acting? Outstanding direction?

According to a new book by Communication Studies senior lecturer Owen Eagan, more than anything it’s how much people are talking about it.

Oscar Buzz and the Influence of Word of Mouth on Movie Success, published by Palgrave Macmillan, is based on four years of research that Eagan conducted as part of the School of Communication’s Research Co-curriculuar course. Lending their support and expertise to the project were School of Communication Dean Raul Reis; Communication Studies Chair Gregory Payne; Professor Eiki Satake, who teaches mathematics and statistics in the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdiscplinary Studies; and affiliated faculty member Grayson Kimball.

“This book wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of many people,” Eagan said. “It’s the result of the many resources that were provided to me, including supportive colleagues and talented students from a college and department that is consistently rated among the best in the country.”

The book explores why word of mouth is the most important determinant of a film’s success. It also examines the enduring appeal and unpredictable nature of movies, and sheds light on the role of film festivals, film critics, and Oscar campaigns in the industry.

Eagan, who specializes in measuring and assessing the influence of strategic communications in business and political environments, teaches a number of courses at Emerson, including Special Events; Management and Communication; Campaign Management; Capstone in Leadership, Politics, and Social Advocacy; and Fundamentals of Speech Communication.

He is also the founder and organizer of Oscar Buzz, an annual symposium held at Emerson Los Angeles that brings together scholars, critics, and marketing strategists to discuss topics around diversity in Hollywood and entertainment media, as well as strategic communications around the year’s crop of Oscar contenders.

In addition to teaching at Emerson, Eagan is a senior vice president for Consensus Strategies, a management consulting firm that specializes in strategic advocacy for major corporate and institutional clients. He is the author of So What?: Measuring and Assessing Strategic Communications in Land Use Politics, which describes a management consulting firm’s approach to winning political campaigns, and has been hailed as one of the best business books on politics by leader in industry, politics, and academia.

“Owen is recognized as a leader in the field of communication studies, and this book provides invaluable insights on the influence of word of mouth for both practitioners and academics alike,” Payne, Communication Studies chair, said.

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