How A24 changed the face of independent cinema, from X to Midsommar
Since its inception in 2012, production company A24 has released a slew of acclaimed films spanning different genres. Often favoring low-budget but high-quality, well-written films over mediocre Hollywood-style blockbusters, A24 changed the standards of independent cinema in more ways than one. Founded by filmmakers Daniel Katz, David Fenkel and John Hodges, A24 Films began as a film distribution company before moving into production itself. Some of his early projects include A Glimpse into the Mind of Charles Swan III and spring breakers.
After obtaining the American rights to Ex-Machina and Bedroom, A24 has seen steady growth in the film world, and in 2019 the company’s films received a total of 25 Oscar nominations. In addition, its television division has also had several successes, notably with the hit show Euphoria. Although still a new and upcoming production company, it’s clear that A24 has been making big waves in the movie world. The company consistently manages to produce thoughtful and often thought-provoking films that examine human experience and emotion in a variety of contexts. While it is true that A24’s origins come from darker themed films, particularly horror thrillers, it has recently explored other topics and themes: for example, Everything everywhere all at once.
Room, The Witch And Moonlight put A24 in the limelight
The successful acquisition by A24 of the distribution rights of Bedroom paved the way for his subsequent films, such as The witch and Moonlight. Bedroom was an incredibly successful film based on Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel and starring Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay. Rotten tomatoes gave Bedroom a rating of 93%, based on 317 reviews, with the site critical consensus indicating this “Bedroom creates an experience that is unforgettably heartbreaking and undeniably rewarding.”
This success has rubbed off on The witchthe now cult horror film that served as Robert Eggers’ first film. The witch much more like the rest of A24’s IP addresses, such as Lighthouse (also an Eggers film), in that it follows supernatural events in an isolated location and therefore relies heavily on the performances of the actors. Starring Anya Taylor-Joy in her first film appearance, in addition to Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie, The witch follows a Puritan family in the 1630s who encounter the forces of evil in the woods beyond their New England farmhouse.
However, 2016 Moonlight is by far one of the best-known A24 films, not only for this Oscar’s blunder but also for its subject. Based on the unpublished semi-autobiographical play by Tarell Alvin McCraney In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, Moonlight is presented in three stages of the main character’s life: childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Moonlight was critically acclaimed for the way it explored the difficulties men grapple with sexuality and identity, including addressing scenes of physical and emotional abuse in childhood. With sales of over $65 million worldwide, Moonlight has been cited as one of the best films of the 21st century and is the first LGBTQ film with an all-black cast. Editor-in-chief Joi McMillon became the first A black woman nominated for an Oscar for editingwhile Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win an acting Oscar.
A24 experienced a sudden boom in popularity from 2018
After experiencing moderate success between 2015 and 2017, the release of Hereditary in 2018 sparked an explosion of popularity for the fledgling film studio. Exit in summer, Hereditary was only the fourth film produced by A24 and was director Ari Aster’s feature debut. Aster, like Eggers, has since worked with A24 on Midsommar and upcoming comedy-horror Boulevard of disappointment. Like its predecessors, Hereditary is a chilling horror film that follows a less than average family as they are haunted by a mysterious presence. As The witch, Hereditary loves scary, jaw-dropping visuals, looking more like a work of art than average supernatural horror. The film received wide critical acclaim, with particular praise for Colette’s performance and Aster’s direction.
Following the success of Hereditary both critically and at the box office (having earned $80 million off a $10 million budget), Aster returned to write and direct the 2019 folk horror film. Midsommar. Midsommar received mixed reviews, with fans loving how brave Aster had been to shoot a mostly daytime horror movie, while others criticized its muddy script and Florence Pugh’s unlikable performance. Interesting way, Midsommar was first introduced as a simple slasher movie set among Swedish cultists, but Aster expanded on the original concept to focus more on the deteriorating relationship between Pugh’s Dani and her boyfriend Christian. Aster manages to capture the essence of Swedish midsummer celebrations while playing with the emotions of the audience as they feel sympathy for Dani and Christian as they struggle with their strange cult hosts and failing relationship. Midsommar is indeed a complex film but is very on brand for A24, especially since it has become a massive talking point within the confines of horror cinema.
Another huge hit of 2019 was that of Robert Eggers Lighthousestarring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as 19th-century lighthouse keepers embroiled in psychological turmoil after being stranded in a remote New England outpost. Lighthouse is generally presented as horror, but has largely defied categorization as it also touches on elements of psychological thriller, survival, and the human condition. Lighthouse first emerged from Max Eggers’ reinterpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s unfinished short story of the same name, while the plot was inspired by a 19th century myth about a murder in a Welsh lighthouse. Drawing heavily on 1890s New England photography, maritime-themed French cinema, and Symbolist art, Lighthouse echoes Eggers’ origins in theater by focusing entirely on performances by Pattinson and Dafoe. Whereas Lighthouse not as successful financially as Hereditary Where Everything everywhere all at oncethe film still received critical acclaim and was nominated for Best Cinematography at the 92nd Academy Awards and 73rd British Academy Film Awards.
How A24 continues to influence modern cinema
The past year has been the most successful for A24 to date, with some fantastic releases like After Yang, The Tragedy of Macbeth, All Everywhere All At Once, Men and X. It’s wonderful to see the small independent company doing so well and it demonstrates that there is still hope for contemporary independent filmmakers to work with small budgets and find success. A24 proves that there’s still room in the film scene for smaller production companies, making films that aren’t tied to a franchise or that rely on CGI for thrills. For example, the recent Everything everywhere all at oncewritten and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as “Daniels”), is a great illustration of how to make an absolutely wild movie with minimal CGI and a lot of hands-on effects.
Everywhere stars Michelle Yeoh as a Chinese-American woman audited by the Internal Revenue Service who discovers that she must connect with parallel universe versions of herself to stop a powerful being from bringing about the destruction of the multiverse . A.O. Scott of The New York Times described the film as a “whirlwind of gender anarchy”, as it plays with elements of dark comedy, science fiction, fantasy, martial arts, and animation. The Daniels researched the concept of the multiverse extensively and began writing the screenplay in 2016. Everything everywhere all at once was critically acclaimed, with critics praising his imagination and handling of themes such as existentialism, nihilism, and Asian-American identity. Unsurprisingly, it grossed over $91 million worldwide, topping Hereditary as A24’s highest-grossing film of all time.
As Moonlight, everywhere explores difficult and far-reaching themes experienced by a minority group, thereby appealing not only to people from that community, but also viewers who want to learn about other experiences. Everywhere demonstrates the A24 team’s commitment to interesting and out-of-this-world stories, in addition to their dedication to classic cinema and low-budget productions. the other recent films of A24, X and Menwere both well received for their excellent execution of the horror genre. Men, in particular, was praised for Rory Kinnear’s performances as several characters in the town where the lead Jessie Buckley travels to heal from a personal tragedy. X brings a modern twist to the classic slasher genre, paying homage to films such as Chainsaw Massacre and Scream.
So, since its inception ten years ago, A24 has released a number of excellent and award-winning movies and TV shows. His high film standards, all with gripping storylines and intriguing characters, set a high standard for independent cinema and filmmakers to come. Film students now see A24 as a standard, no longer obsessed with classic films and Hollywood blockbusters. Although A24 is still a lesser-known studio, it has carved out a place for itself in the film scene and made room for horror and clever thrillers among big-budget Hollywood movies, in addition to thoughtful dramas about the transition to adulthood. The company has given several authors their big break, from the likes of Ari Aster to Robert Eggers and the Daniels. The general public and fans are eagerly awaiting what A24 has to offer next, although they are sure that their upcoming projects will be as successful as their predecessors.