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The Bee's Knees: Oscar Buzz and Studio Hype

Posted At: April 9, 2008 12:34 PM
by Katie Lynn McInnish

Every year, movie fans fill out prediction sheets and chip into office pools about who will win the year’s most coveted gold statuette. But when asked why one film or actor was chosen over another, some come up blank. “The critics picked this to win” or “I just heard a lot of good things about this movie” are usual answers. It’s interesting how most viewers of the Academy Awards have yet to see some or any of the nominated features, yet can predict winners in almost every category. And with the Academy Awards being second only to the Super Bowl in advertisement revenue, it is important and enjoyable to explore who creates “Oscar buzz” and how it flies into the ears of even those far removed from Hollywood.

According to Claudia Puig of USA Today, Oscar buzz, a term ingrained in the media’s lexicon, is “a must-see factor. In politics, the equivalent to buzz might be ‘presidential’ quality. In pop culture it might be the Web site that’s getting the most hits. In Hollywood, buzz centers on a handful of well-reviewed movies and performances, the ones everyone seems to acknowledge are awards shoo-ins.” In fact, studios have high-level employees designated to Oscar campaigns whose top assignments are creating buzz from November to February. Studios budget Oscar campaigns for their actors and actresses, which allows them to contract professional hair and makeup artists, said the New York Times.

With movie studios spending nearly $25 million each year per nominated film, it is no wonder that we remember names of movies we have yet to see. The Daily News, a local New York paper, reported that for the 2007 Academy Awards season, Fox Searchlight and Paramount ran marketing and PR budgets at around $40 million to $50 million for blockbusters like “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Dreamgirls.”

The actors get involved in creating buzz for the films, as well. The cost of expensive hotels and glamour may seem an excessive attempt to persuade the talent, but it is well worth it. The chances that a film will be nominated increase when the film’s lead is constantly doing interviews, making television appearances and popping up in magazines. By giving the film and the studio’s publics exposure to the work and getting the artists involved, it is more likely the title will stick in our memories.

Communicating with its publics, which can range from the average moviegoer to the opinionated critics to the voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is vital for a movie’s success. Campaigns must be carefully created to appeal to all of these key audiences while generating revenue and reputation for the studio.

Now if only they could help out those unfortunate people on the “Worst-Dressed List.”


Puig, Claudia. (2004, January 23). What’s the Oscar BuzzUSA Today Online.

Lacher, Irene. (2006, March 5). And Next I Want to ThankThe New York Times Online.

Rovzar, Chris. (2007, February 21). The Business of OscarNew York Daily News Online.

Do you think average movie-goers should become more involved in the Academy Awards? Are the studios’ special interest projects keeping other films from being recognized?

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