Can A24 Sustain Its Box Office Boom?

Can A24 Sustain Its Box Office
A24 Image Asset

The release of “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which stars Michelle Yeoh as the matriarch of a Chinese-American family thrust into a multiverse crisis, has been a surprise box office boon for arthouse distributor A24 since its wide release on April 8. Its next film, “Men,” which releases nationwide on Friday, may extend this momentum.

“Everything Everywhere” only needs to add another $3 million to its $47 million take for it to become the company’s best film yet at the domestic box office. This would be an impressive feat, as no other film from A24 released during the pandemic has graced its top 10.

Likewise, the film has achieved remarkable audience retention since its wide release. While major studio releases typically see weekend grosses fall around 50% after their debut weekends, “Everything Everywhere” has yet to experience a weekend drop greater than 40%. The film even saw weekend grosses increase twice after its initial wide release, though the first instance was aided by A24 doubling the number of theaters in which it was playing, per Comscore data.

The film’s directing duo known as Daniels’ last film for A24, “Swiss Army Man,” only grossed $4 million domestically, per Comscore. Acquired by A24 and shot in early 2020 on a $25 million budget courtesy of IAC and the Russo Brothers via their AGBO prodco, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was clearly intended to up A24’s ante at the box office before the pandemic set in and shut down theaters across the country.

Good showings for horror film “Midsommar,” awards contender “The Farewell” and Adam Sandler-led “Uncut Gems,” which net the company’s $50 million domestic best, almost saw A24 break $100 million domestically in 2019. By contrast, family drama “Minari,” a major Oscar contender during the 2021 awards season, brought in just $3 million, per Comscore.

That was far less than the $28 million earned by prior best picture winner “Moonlight.” The realization that such lauded films as “Minari” could stay confined to a diminished exhibition climate undoubtedly fed into A24’s reported exploration of a $2.5 billion to $3 billion sale last year, with newer streaming entrant Apple apparently interested at one point ahead of its own winning Academy turn via “CODA.”

A24 has still released films like “On the Rocks” and “The Tragedy of Macbeth” through Apple during the pandemic via a deal set in 2018, but the success of “Everything Everywhere” has given it enough of a visible presence at the box office to surpass mini-major studio Lionsgate’s 2022 cumulative gross so far.

A24’s 2022 domestic gross is just under $60 million vs. Lionsgate’s $52 million haul. Given Lionsgate’s current 2022 gross includes “Moonfall,” which cost $140 million to produce and was outgrossed by “Jackass Forever,” A24 seemingly has the chance to prove itself once again as a provider of low- to mid-budget fare that fills seats via word of mouth and critical endorsement.

Alex Garland’s psychological horror film “Men” has a good shot at picking up where “Everything Everywhere” is leaving off. A24’s top 10 earners count three horror films among them in addition to “Ex Machina,” Garland’s techno-thriller debut as director that earned $25 million in 2016. Plus, earlier 2022 slasher “X” already net more than $10 million for A24 ahead of “Everything Everywhere,” per Comscore.

It may not sport the action and fantasy-oriented flair of “Everything Everywhere” and will likely not earn as much, but “Men” continues A24’s proclivity for eerie, theme-driven horror and only counts two main roles: Jessie Buckley (HBO’s “Chernobyl”) and Rory Kinnear, who plays most of the film’s titular men.

As a result, “Men” doesn’t have a budget at the scale of “Everything Everywhere” and shouldn’t have to make as much to turn a profit for A24 if the horror formula works again.

Beyond “Men,” the distributor has family-friendly “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” and horror-comedy “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” which stars “Saturday Night Live’s” Pete Davidson, lined up for summer dates, so A24 will maintain a frequent presence in theaters over the next few months before more films are dated for fall.

A near-$50 million film like “Everything Everywhere” isn’t much when compared with the likes of “Doctor Strange 2” or “The Batman,” the year’s top grossers so far. But the film has still grossed more than twice that of Michael Bay and Universal’s April actioner “Ambulance” and has yet to slow down considerably.

If A24’s streak continues, the majors will have much to study for their non-tentpole efforts.