From the unexpected winner of “Moonlight boy” at the academy award ceremony, to the annual blockbuster “excitement”, to such masterpieces as “room”, “Miss bird”, “machine girl” and “instant universe”, as well as R-rated horror films such as “genetic doom”, “midsummer night’s shock”, “witch”, “Lighthouse” and “X”, A24 film has become the best independent film company in Hollywood in the past decade.
A24 film company, founded in New York in 2012, was unstoppable before the outbreak and was described by GQ as “disturbing Hollywood”. They hold on to the box office trophy with both hands. Every time the annual best film list of the major media is included, it is indispensable. Today, they have 80+ films and 30+ Oscar nominations!
As a Hollywood film company with quite a lot of reputation in the past decade, A24 is a mysterious organization in Hollywood. The founder hardly gave interviews, and the official website could not find the regular boasting company profile, only concise and clear film information.
They all rely on their own works to speak. A24’s boss obviously knows how to “be a low-key man and do things with a high profile”, making a lot of money quietly. The whole team has good operation and production ability, and they don’t rely on big IP, big production and big lineup to win. Instead, they slowly explore their own route and gradually become unique in Hollywood.
In 2013, spring break, CO starring Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and James Franco, was A24’s first work that attracted great attention in the Hollywood industry.
The film truly restores the spring break status of American college students. Although the film has a poor reputation, it is bold and restricted. It is sunny and sandy, with fierce men and naked women, which shows the living conditions of young people. No one expected that A24 would start to take the wrong path, slowly explore the road, and achieve breakthrough performance.
Then, A24 began to release minority films such as jewels, old enemies, under the skin and the dark place, so the common labels of anti mainstream and independent films such as sex, violence, terror and cynicism are in A24 films.
Their bold and strange thinking runs counter to the conservative thinking of the six traditional Hollywood companies in superheroes, remakes and big IP.
However, you have to admire their courage and trading ability. Just like the first-line Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson’s naked film for the first time, it is actually A24’s “under the skin”, which is a bit unimaginable.
At that time, under the skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer, was also shortlisted as the best film in Venice after nine years of rebirth in 2004. It was full of experimental color, but the story and characters were too thin or even rough, and the controversy was huge.
The year 2015 was a brilliant year for A24 film company. They released five works in a row, including “room” and “mechanical girl”, which won the Oscar.
Adapted from Emma Donohue’s original novel room of the same name, the story of a imprisoned woman fleeing with her children won Brit Larson the Best Actress Oscar. She was also chosen as “Captain Marvel” by marvel!
Alex Garland’s screenwriter and director of “the mechanical girl” beat “Mad Max 4” and “Star Wars: the awakening of the force” in the visual effects award, which made people dumbfounded.
When A24 released the soft violent love film lobster, Colin Farrell, the star of this film, which tells that if you don’t fall in love, you will become an animal, said frankly, “if it wasn’t for A24, these unique stories would probably not appear on the big screen.”
In 2021, the Green Knight released by A24 was adapted from medieval poetry and told a long-standing Knight legend. Even the director David Lowe said, “I thought no one would invest in this film in onemillion years, because it is too strange.”
Even Barry Jenkins, the director of moonlight boy, who won the Oscar, said: “if I told you that I would open a studio in Hollywood, and the first film I planned to invest in was about a black gay boy whose mother was addicted to drugs, would you say that this idea sounds great? Probably not, but A24 would.”
Because of “Moonlight boy”, A24 won the Oscar. People also compared them with Miramax, an independent Hollywood company. However, Weinstein likes to hype stars and topics, turning an issue into an eye-catching controversial event.
For example, when promoting the Cannes Golden Palm film “sex, lies and videos”, the Cannes aura of the film was put aside for the time being, and an article was made on the content that more attracted “adult restriction”.
Compared with Miramax, which put the American independent films “sex, lies and videos”, “Shakespeare’s love history” and “the British patient” on the altar, A24 even if “Moonlight boy” is more low-key, they believe in data and firmly control the social media that directly communicate and contact with the audience.
In 2016, when the moonlight boy was released, A24 chose to start from the art theaters in New York and Los Angeles, which is the kind of “rural surrounding the city” in the traditional release! After the attendance of the film soared and the word-of-mouth fermented, the company’s data analysis department quickly summarized the information to support the decision-making of the exhibition department to expand the film arrangement in the future.
At the same time, the Propaganda Department has also begun to increase efforts to promote the film from the art film fan group in big cities to the LGBT group, the black community and more ordinary audiences. In the end, the film won the Oscar for best picture and grossed $65million at the box office with a production fee of $4million, becoming a phenomenal blockbuster!
However, “Moonlight boy” won the best picture Oscar, which is probably more controversial than “Shakespeare’s love history” beat “Private Ryan”. After all, at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony, the presenters presented the best picture award originally belonging to the moonlight boy to the city of love, and then changed it back, making the audience feel that there was something fishy inside!
However, any award ceremony is a power struggle. Even if A24 company does something, it is the inevitable result of the general trend.
In 2021, the cumulative global box office of A24 films was US $800million, and the best performing horror film “genetic doom” in 2018 was US $80million.
With “genetic doom”, Ali Esther was born and won the best debut award of the 22nd American Online Film Critics Association Award.
Leisure New York once praised the film: it is an unimaginable family tragedy that has been interpreted as a supernatural horror film with historical purposes. Genetic doom is simply the Exorcist of the new era. To some extent, it is more cruel and terrible than the latter.
Unlike the big scene of traditional Hollywood blockbusters trying to engage in extraterrestrials, A24 works are slightly less popular. For example, moonlight boy focuses on black homosexuals, Florida paradise focuses on single mothers living in motels, Miss bird focuses on American small town girls who yearn for big cities, and don’t tell her tells the story of Chinese families. The Chinese dialogue accounts for more than 70%, which is completely different from that of North American cinemas.
However, A24 is actually a popular type among the minority. For example, the mechanical girl discusses the meaning of love, human panic about artificial intelligence, the moonlight boy complains about racial discrimination and homosexuality, and the naive unmarried mother in Florida paradise also gives her all her love to her children.
“Miss bird” is a young town girl who quarrels with her parents, while “X” is a freak couple’s panic about aging and moral corruption, so it is easy to arouse the public’s resonance.
The midsummer night thriller, which left a psychological shadow on many people, was a couple who went to a friend’s home in Sweden for vacation, but were attacked by a cult. They were terrified.
“Sheep cub”, which adopts half human and half sheep children, is full of mystery and curiosity.
Another example is A24’s Lighthouse, the witch, which cooperates with Director Robert Eggers, has created a completely unique and ambitious universe. At the same time, it tries to make people feel fear, suspense, wonder and beauty at the same time. It has a full personality.
In the black-and-white horror film lighthouse, the two lighthouse keepers go crazy together. This is a poisonous alliance and a dance of death. This strange sense of terror is also creepy.
When the year of extreme violence was released in 2014, A24 specially opened a blog to collect the pictures, reports and other files of New York in 1981, which took the audience to immerse themselves in the wild New York in that turbulent era.
In 2021, the Korean directed work Minari, which A24 participated in the production and distribution, won the Golden Globe Award for the best foreign language film, with an investment of 2million yuan and a harvest of 12million yuan. It captured the hearts of Korean audiences with the Korean American dream, once again proving its accuracy in judging the interests of ethnic minorities!
However, as the epidemic rages, the number of works of A24 company naturally decreases. For example, the three Oscars of Macbeth’s tragedy have not won awards and can only be broadcast on Apple streaming media. There is constant speculation about whether they will be acquired by big companies. However, last April, j.b.lockhart, the former chief financial officer of N.B.A., joined the company. In March this year, the US $225million equity investment from stripes temporarily broke this rumor.
Ken fox, the founder of stripes, will join the board of directors of A24. The company holds less than 10% of A24, whose current valuation has exceeded US $2.5 billion.
A24 claims that the intention of this round of financing is to expand the company’s production and distribution business. Starting from the American drama “excitement” jointly produced by HBO, A24 obviously tries to increase its power in content production. It can’t rely solely on cinema movies, and eye-catching dramas should also be involved.
After “Swiss Army knife man”, A24 and the director filmed “instant universe” starring Michelle Yeoh. The heroine found that there were many universes in the world. This film was also popular in the North American market in the first half of 2022.
Instead of making purely niche art films, they have always been committed to a film with unique taste, in line with the tastes of current young people, and both artistic and commercial atmosphere, and have formed their own style to attract a group of fans.
As the target market is young people, A24 hardly does much publicity in the traditional newspaper industry and invests the saved funds into online publicity.
In order to find congenial friends for their works, A24 has developed numerous sidelines: independent magazines, independent books, and actively interacted with netizens online. Online activities are also very novel, seeking a marketing outlet.
Just like when “ghost floating” was released in 2017, they opened a pop-up store in Manhattan to sell ghost sheets of the same model as the film.
In 2014, when the film “Ji Ji” was released, A24 registered a tinder account for the AI protagonist AVA in the film. If they can still have a dialogue with each other, they will be cheated by robots to pay attention to the film.
More than posters, A24 will co direct and carefully edit a theme magazine for each new film.
It not only tells the director’s growth history and film making experience, but also radiates cultural issues and presents diverse voices.
Later, this enthusiasm for cross-border publishing industry also extended to books.
In particular, after the American drama “excitement” became popular, it struck while the iron was hot and produced eight books at one go. The content was not only the portraits of the stills, but also carefully disassembled from screenwriting, casting, film division, clothing, music and choreography. Actor Hunter Schafer also contributed her sketches.
The films produced by A24 do not have a large number of stars like the Avengers and the expendables, nor do they have the exciting special effects like inception and avatar. Some of them are the most authentic characterization of minority groups, as well as the bizarre science fiction films and the horror films thinking about fear. There is no sequel, the only exception is excitement, which has been launched for two seasons.
Many Hollywood movies blindly pursue the ultimate visual impact and sensory shock, but ignore their own uniqueness. A24 does the opposite, which makes those who are tired of blockbuster production rekindle their interest in Hollywood movies!
Although many of their films are very strange, many of them are really rotten. At present, they are also embarrassed by the epidemic and may not be acquired by large companies in the future. But they let those who thought that the Hollywood film industry was going to die see a Xintiandi with a lopsided sword.
It is hoped that this independent Hollywood film company will make persistent efforts to launch more excellent film and television plays in the future.