Section Image: Mark Houston in his office

Mark Houston Receives Prestigious Mallen Award for Contributions to Film and Entertainment

The Mallen Prize honors Houston, TCU Neeley’s associate dean for faculty and research, for his lifetime contributions and his work furthering the understanding of filmed entertainment economics.

December 03, 2022

By Rachel Stowe Master

Mark Houston, associate dean for faculty and research and the Eunice and James L. West Chair in Marketing at TCU Neeley, was recognized with the Carol and Bruce Mallen Prize for Published Scholarly Contributions to Motion Picture Industry Studies. 

“The Mallen award honors lifetime contributions in academic work furthering the understanding of filmed entertainment economics. Mark’s contributions to the field are clearly substantial and significant,” said Thorsten Hennig-Thurau, professor of marketing and media research at the University of Muenster in Germany and the 2010 Mallen Prize winner. 

The award was presented at the annual Mallen Conference, which brings together leading global scholars in business, economics and creative disciplines with a focus on movie-related research. The conference was founded by Bruce Mallen, who was dean of Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business and also active in the film industry as a producer, distributor and real-estate developer. He passed away in 2021.  

After a pandemic-induced pause, the Mallen Group bestowed 2022 honors on both Houston and Allègre Hadida, associate professor in strategy at the University of Cambridge. They were recognized in a virtual ceremony in September.

Mark Houston in his office

“When you look at the list of prior award winners, including legends like Josh Eliashberg and Chuck Weinberg, it is a huge honor to be recognized as a Mallen fellow,” Houston said. “It is really gratifying to get this tangible signal that the leading scholars in this area place high value on your research.”

Houston’s heavily-cited articles include several that deal with film industry topics, including a 2009 Journal of Marketing article on movie sequels and a 2018 Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science article on pre-release buzz. In addition, in 2019 he co-authored Entertainment Science: Data Analytics and Practical Theory for Movies, Games, Books, and Music with Hennig-Thurau. The book was a 2020 finalist for the Leonard L. Berry Marketing Book Award, the highest book prize in marketing.

With more than 900 pages and referencing 1,100 scholarly journal articles, the book provides a comprehensive analysis of state-of-the-art research across the entire field of entertainment science. Appealing to both academics and practitioners, it has already been cited in over 100 research articles, including some in marketing’s most prestigious journals, meaning scholars are using it as a foundation for their work. Almost two million chapter downloads have been registered.

“Mark continues to bring creativity, innovation and real-world emphasis to the classroom,” said Daniel Pullin, the John V. Roach Dean for the Neeley School of Business. “Being named a Mallen fellow reflects his position among the world’s top researchers in entertainment marketing. His high-caliber work is having a significant impact on other scholars, practitioners in studios and the streaming industry, as well as the students who dream of working in film and entertainment.”

Houston describes himself as an “accidental movie scholar.” Following a BS from Southwest Baptist University and an MBA from the University of Missouri, he earned his PhD from Arizona State University, where his research training focused on innovation and marketing strategy.

“At a conference in 2001, some friends from my PhD program and I were going to grab dinner, and they invited a German scholar along. Thorsten and I ended up sitting by each other and, in the course of just chatting, reeled off a few movie quotes and discovered that we both loved movies. He mentioned that he had found that data about movies’ costs and revenues was pretty easy to get, and he was starting a project to identify the factors that drove a movie’s commercial success. He asked if I would be interested in working on it, so — without thinking that anything would ever come of it — I said sure,” Houston recalled. 

They made their first joint movie research presentation at a conference in 2002. Seven refereed journal articles, 15 conference presentations and the co-authored book followed, and now most summers Houston teaches a doctoral seminar at the University of Muenster, where he also works with Hennig-Thurau’s students on research.

Among Houston’s current entertainment science projects, he is exploring the impact of movie piracy post-pandemic. COVID-19 broke a long-standing truce between studios and movie theaters, he noted.

“Before COVID, movies were very rarely available for rental or streaming until a few months after being released at theaters. But during COVID, simultaneous releases — theater and digital — really upended things because clean digital copies were available instantly. Estimates are that Marvel’s Black Widow lost up to $600 million in box office revenues as around 40% of views were pirated,” he said.

Houston’s many previous honors include the American Marketing Association’s 2019 Louis Stern Award for impactful research, the 2019 Jagdish N. Sheth Best JAMS Article Award for his research on pre-release buzz and a 2012 TCU Dean’s Award for Research and Creativity. He now serves as editor of the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, one of marketing’s flagship journals.

Photo: Mark Houston

Mark Houston

Associate Dean for Faculty and Research
Eunice and James L. West Chair in Marketing
Marketing Department

Neeley 4305