It’s no secret that Hollywood studios rely heavily on the tentpole blockbuster action movies. The big studios are more likely to greenlight a superhero movie than a small character-based film and who can blame them? Rising movie tickets prices, where a family of four can pay upwards of £50 to see a movie, audiences want to watch a movie that guarantees them an enjoyable time. That’s not to say the blockbuster is bad or a lesser art form, they definitely have their place and with many of the big blockbusters make close to a billion dollars it’s hard to argue with the studios. However, there’s room for a diverse landscape of movies from blockbusters to indie movies. It turns out there’s an audience that’s hungry for story-driven narratives and is willing to pay to see them.
The small to mid-budget movies has fallen out of favour at the major studios, which has seen these movies transitioned onto the small screen through streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. Thanks to video on demand services, a VoD release is seen as more of a legitimate means of gaining an audience for your film than it was even a few years ago. There are some companies, however, that envisage a place for the mid-budget film to thrive on the big screen. Enter A24 a film distributor and producer based in New York. Since launching in 2012, they have distributed over 60 films from a diverse group of directors, filmmakers, and writers. The company was founded by three industry veterans; Daniel Katz, David Fenkel, and John Hodges. All three founders have helped shape the company into what it is today by calling on their individual strengths.
Some of A24’s distributed films include Ex Machina, The Disaster Artist, and Room; which won Brie Larson her Oscar for best actress at the 2016 Oscars. Their first production, the Barry Jenkins film Moonlight, won the best picture Oscar at the 2017 Academy Awards (the year of the La La Land debacle). They followed up with three Oscars Nominations in 2018 including Ladybird, the highest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes of all time. A24 has made over $285,000,000 at the box office to date. That’s not to say that they haven’t stumbled in some areas. They distributed the Kevin Smith film ‘Tusk’, which was derided by critics and audiences alike, but the quality of the films has been consistent, and the accolades and box office returns back this up.
It’s clear to see that A24 want the films to be the stars of the show. The founding members rarely give interviews, and the about page on their website is an abstract photo of palm bubbles floating in front of palm leaves on a blue background. The way that A24 markets itself gives the company an enigmatic presence and further cements the notion that the films come first. The sole purpose of A24 is to tell interesting, unique, stories. They filled a gap in the market that has been neglected since the early naughties. In the current theatrical release landscape which consists of producer lead superhero films, focus group action films, and cynical cash grab remakes, production companies like A24 will be sorely needed.