“What if this is the best version?”
If you haven’t heard of A24, let me help you out from the rock you’ve been under.
The New York-based Production House was founded in August 2012 by Daniel Katz, David Fenkel and John Hodges. Each of the founding members were already established Production Heads in Hollywood, with their main goal behind the company to “experience movies from a distinctive point of view”.
“They make things work that according to standard procedures really shouldn’t work. And I’m not saying they’re magicians. I think what they’ve understood is there’s a sufficient number of people out there who want more challenging or different material. And they’re aiming at them,” said Alex Garland, director of Ex Machina.
The name “A24” was inspired by the Italian A24 motorway Katz was driving on when he decided to found the company.
The company began producing and distributing its own films in 2013, with its first entry into the zeitgeist of cinema being Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, a film starring one of the riskiest things to ever grace the screen: Charlie Sheen.
Since then, A24’s success has been immeasurable, especially for an independent Production company founded the same year The Avengers came out.
Across 96 films released at the time of this article, the average Production Budget on each film rounds out to a cool $6 million, with the Box Office revenue across the 96 films adding up to $798 million.
You read that right. Almost $800 million in revenue over the past 7 years, from just the movies they produce.
That’s an average of $8,312,500 off of an average budget of just $62,500. Which, if you want a number that’ll impress your dinner party guests, is a 13,300% profit.
Not to mention the 25 Oscar Nominations and 6 Wins (including that Best Picture win for Moonlight).
Now you must be wondering, “how have they made such a racket in the film industry over the past decade and I haven’t seen one of their films?” If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on you seeing at least one.
Their catalogue has such a wide range of genres and styles. From Arthouse Horror masterclasses such as Hereditary, The Lighthouse and Midsommar to Coming of Age tearjerkers like Lady Bird and the aforementioned Moonlight to Science Fiction mind-benders Ex Machina and High Life. I’m also positive you heard one of your friends tell you that Adam Sandler is cool now after crime thriller Uncut Gems swept the stage at the end of last year.
The Studio also boasts a list of repeat collaborators such as Ari Aster, Sofia Coppola, Barry Jenkins, Robert Eggers, David Robert Mitchell and The Safdie Brothers, who seem to have a knack for making actors we all thought we hated cool again after Robert Pattinson’s outstanding performance in Good Time.
What has captured the bleeding hearts of young film fans and makers alike, is how A24 is not afraid of telling different stories. We are all sick to death of hearing about the next mediocre Disney property and how much your clueless Aunt loved it over Christmas lunch. A24 takes the scripts any big studio would pass on and gives them to the people who know them the most to tell their own stories. The result is a catalogue so fresh, modern and personal. They are the scariest, saddest, most pure films anyone has produced over the last decade.
A24’s the kind of company where they say, “Yeah, they don’t need to know what it’s about. They just need to know how it feels,” said Barry Jenkins, director of Moonlight.
So now we have massive Box Office numbers, amazing films you have definitely seen, Oscars coming out of our ears and filmmakers you never knew you’d call your favourites all in the span of 8 short years.
But how did they revolutionise what it means to be a film studio? Easy. Transmedia.
Traditionally, Transmedia is defined as a narrative that extends beyond multiple media forms that also plays to the strength of those forms. A24’s primary media is of course Film, but the untraditional second medium they use to continue their stories outside those films is Merchandise.
Plain and simple, it almost seems kind of silly to think “what could they possibly be doing that’s different? Clothes? How original”. But trust me, it is. How many people do you see walking around with 20th Century Fox branded hoodies?
Not only do they have a line of seasonal based clothing branded by their company, but they also sell items based on the films they produce too. Take for example the multiple editions of Screenplay books that not only print the original script used in filming, but also forewords with people like filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho and musician Frank Ocean and shot lists for intricate scenes within the films.
There’s also “Zine’s” priced at $5 each, written by filmmakers and actors alike who work with A24 published every month. They even sell film themed cosmetic items for yourself and your home, such as a basketball themed around Uncut Gems, a 1920’s mens grooming set based on The Lighthouse, a “Dungeons and Dragons” style board game based on the unreleased The Green Knight or for the more practical: a map of San Francisco made by locals Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails, the filmmakers behind The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the limit A24 has when bringing their films beyond the screen.
The genius, however, comes from their exclusive Auctions held every so often a film comes out that has people talking. These auctions are exclusively cosmetic (sorry to everyone who wanted a night out with Willem Dafoe) and always in the benefit of a charity close to the hearts of those who work at the Studio and the New York City area.
The most recent Auctions went up in May, with 7 items from The Lighthouse and 18 from Uncut Gems raising money for Food Bank for New York City and Queens Community House respectively. A combined $206,800 raised between just those two Auctions alone is a testament to the outreach the Studio has to its fans and collaborators alike.
Who wouldn’t want to wear that amazing May Queen dress from Midsommar to their High School Formal?
A24 has disrupted the inner foundations of how films are made, specifically in how they’re nurtured as pieces of art, rather than numbers in an Exec’s bank account.
“Hollywood is run by accountants at this point. And so anytime you speak with someone who’s not a pure accountant, is not a pencil pusher? It’s exciting. They had heart to them.” – Harmony Korine, director of Spring Breakers.
Since the Studio burst onto the scene, their stories have graced millions of eyes and hearts, and changed the way people not only see the filmmaking process, but how those films are consumed both on and off the screen.
Hollywood hasn’t been the same town since.
For more on A24, read our review of The Last Black Man In San Francisco below:
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