Since its inception in 2013, the independent film distributor A24 has been making waves in the industry. They had a remarkable first year, which saw the release of Harmony Korine’s social experiment Spring Breakers, Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, and James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now. Fast forward only three years later, and they’ve landed themselves seven Academy Award nominations, including a Best Picture nomination for Room.
Started by three marketing and distribution veterans, A24 made a name for themselves through mastering the festival circuit. Its fierce bidding and creative risks have led to the acquisitions of smart and innovative films like Obvious Child, A Most Violent Year, and The End of the Tour. Perhaps it’s because A24 really doesn’t care, or maybe it’s intentional, but it almost seems as if it’s not paying attention to revenue or universal appeal. Rather, it seems A24’s strategy relies on picking movies they like and running with them.
Hollywood has a problem with making films geared toward revenue rather than creative integrity.Therefore, it generally centers films on what the producers and production executives think the audience wants rather than take any risks. Look at recent box-office bombs like Joy or Burnt. Studio execs see the name Jennifer Lawrence or Bradley Cooper and see that as enough of a qualification to greenlight a movie. A24 doesn’t seem to care about who is in its movies or the topic of the films. It has released movies with subjects ranging from abortion, to men falling in love with robots, to a man who turns into a walrus.
Studios rely heavily on traditional PR, a formula A24 vehemently rejects. Whoever runs A24’s Twitter and Instagram accounts doesn’t seem to mind offending anyone, making jokes about people like Leonardo Dicaprio and Drake. Its twitter has even compared Ted Cruz to Satan. They frequently praises other companies’ films, and often comment on topical events like Donald Trump’s campaign and funny pictures of animals. It is hilarious and well-curated, which helps A24 attract younger audiences. For one of their latest films, The Witch, A24 teamed with The Satanic Temple in an attempt to promote the film.
would really like to make movies with the director of the australian cat super skateboarding adventure video. pic.twitter.com/mq7tgZEE6P
— A24 (@A24) October 2, 2015
People who think it's cruel to put a cat in a monkey costume are the *worst* kind of people pic.twitter.com/JhFwJ169Rg
— A24 (@A24) January 7, 2016
A24 also recognizes the importance of maintaining the relationships it has with writers, directors and actors. After releasing Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now, A24 went on to release his next film as well, this year’s The End of the Tour. The same goes for director Noah Baumbach, actor Oscar Isaac, and many others.
Hot off its Oscar nominations, A24 acquired two new films at the Sundance Film Festival last week. The first, Morris From America, tells the story of a young, rap-obsessed boy growing up in Germany. The press have had a field day with the second, Swiss Army Man. It stars Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, and is about a man who encounters a farting corpse and uses it to get across an ocean. This was their announcement on Twitter:
SWISS ARMY MAN + A24. Everything you've read is true. there are farts & existential boners. it will be our Cast Away pic.twitter.com/ISCeN3GUOp
— A24 (@A24) January 29, 2016
Despite its success, A24 continues the model they started with three years ago. It isn’t looking for a franchise to capitalize on, but rather buys quirky and seemingly unprofitable festival hits. These festival films all seem to have a certain stick-to-their-guns character, which is rare on any level of entertainment right now. They’re also releasing quality films year-round, with Ex Machina in April, The End of the Tour and Amy in July, and Room in October. In December, Harvey Weinstein wrote an op-ed in the Hollywood Reporter about his frustration that the fall awards season is too packed with films, and that in result, many performances go unnoticed. He made the argument that the whole year should be dedicated to quality releases. The people at A24 seem to be pioneers in that fight.
Nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay, perhaps the most charming part of this year’s Oscar season, has capitalized on A24’s innovative awards campaign. He went home with a Critic’s Choice Award last month, and in his acceptance speech, thanked “A-Two-Four,” and said, “I know where to put this: on the shelf, right beside my Millennium Falcon.”
While most production companies always have the Oscars in the back of their heads when they buy films, A24 uses their platform differently. Their slate is not run by awards-hungry executives, giving them room for diversity and original content that Hollywood so desperately needs right now.
Featured Image By A24 Films