The Oscars put the spotlight back on independent studio A24
The story of A24 has the ingredients of a good Hollywood screenplay. That of a very recent independent studio, which has managed to win numerous awards with low-budget films, against blockbusters…
In the space of ten years, A24 has made a name for itself among the greats of cinema. And at the Oscars this weekend, his feature film “Everything Everywhere All at Once” managed to beat a Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”), Top Gun: Maverick And “Avatar 2”, by winning the statuette for best film.
Moreover, the independent studio, which began in distribution, won a total of nine awards – seven for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and two for “The Whale”, including an award for male interpretation -, making it a big winner of this ceremony. By comparison, Netflix only had six.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”, a crazy low-budget comedy – less than 20 million dollars according to Bloomberg –, full of pop references, with a mainly Asian cast, had had unexpected success in theaters with more than 100 million dollars in receipts.
The award-winning feature film by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan is one of the figureheads “of the creative, less standardized films offered by A24”, explains Alexis Mas, Managing Director of Condor Films. “Their specificity is to leave a great freedom, a carte blanche to the authors directors, which is less common in the United States than in Europe. The studio, which employs around 200 people according to Reuters, had already won a string of awards in the past, including the Oscar for best film with “Moonlight” in 2017. “They are real talent scouts,” adds Tristan du Laz , the boss of Originals Factory, which has the rights to “Everything Everywhere All at Once” for France.
Create a brand
The production and distribution company, founded by David Fenkel, Daniel Katz and John Hodges – the latter having since left – is out of place. The studio created in New York – and not in Los Angeles -, which many compare to Miramax, “knew how to impose a very identified brand. There is an audience that goes to see all of A24’s films, a real loyalty, which is rare,” continues Alexis Mas, who distributes several of his films. The studio even has a whole line of A24 derivative products, which owes its name to the Italian highway on which the adventure was born, according to GQ magazine.
And, even if the founders are very discreet, “the company is extremely successful in terms of marketing. For example, ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ had only started in a few theaters in March in the United States and experienced real excitement, driven in particular by social networks”, underlines Tristan du Laz, which will also be released in April ” Beau is Afraid”.
Robert Pattinson face printed on pizza boxes for ‘Good Time’ promotion, fake Tinder profile for ‘Ex Machina’, A24 knows, like says “The World”, make the buzz… He recently acquired the “Cherry Lane Theater” in New York for 10 million dollars to offer shows and films there.
A24, which works both for cinema and television (“Euphoria” on HBO…) but also in podcasts, seems well aware of its value. “Many of their films are sold relatively expensive in France, which forces distributors to take risks,” adds Alexis Mas. For example, “Eternal Daughter” was sold to Condor “about three times the price of previous films by the same director, which we ourselves helped to publicize”.
Increase in capital
A24 executives would rather see their films on shelves than risk selling them off. This also explains the sometimes lengthy negotiations. For “Everything Everywhere All at Once”, “we reached an agreement only three weeks before the American release”, says Tristan du Laz. In fact, the feature film was only released at the end of August in France. In the end, it had around 350,000 admissions, according to Comscore, “which is honourable, but not exceptional, as audiences did not fully return to theaters in the fall. We think he will do much more, since he is coming out these days”.
Anyway, A24 is starting to weigh more and more in the industry. The seventh-largest US retailer in 2022, according to Comscore, had a valuation of between $2.5 billion and $3 billion, according to “Variety” in 2021, when he reportedly thought about selling himself – which remained at the rumor stage. Last spring, it announced that it had raised $225 million by selling 10% of its capital to the Stripes investment fund, its first capital increase since its launch.