Oscar 2023: why the A24 production company is the real winner

Oscar 2023: why the A24 production company is the real winner

Oscar 2023

His name is A24 and since yesterday evening he is officially the new power to beat in the cinematic landscape. The 2023 Oscars have in fact marked a triumph across the board for the production and distribution company founded by Daniel Katz, David Fenkel and John Hodges. EEAAO (Everything Everywhere All At Onc e) and the Whale were the big stars of the figurines, with the chasing All Quiet on the Western Front. The first two are precisely of the A24, the new reality that is putting the Hollywood that was in check, creating a new way of conceiving cinematographic fruition and creation.

That dream born on an Italian highway

The A24 was born in Italy. Strange right? Yet, it is so. It was 2012 and Daniel Katz was in Italy, heading for the Caput Mundi, on the iconic (and often cursed by many of us) Rome-Teramo highway. “This is the time to do it,” Katz said to himself, as he has continued to explain over the years. Katz was then working for Guggenheim Partners, in the economics arm, Fenkel, was president and co-founder of Oscilloscope Laboratories, while Hodges was involved in Big Beach. They gave up everything to create this new, strange adventure, initially called A24 films, with the aim of gaining a position in the distribution sector. A milestone that they have reached in just a few years since, in addition to distribution, they decided to also deal with the production of films for the big screen and TV series, effectively splitting the market in half.

An impossible bet won (and triumphant at the 2023 Oscars) by doing something very simple, apparently banal but in reality increasingly difficult: proposing alternative narratives to the mainstream ones, combining experimentation, imagination and the audacity of independent cinema, with a visual dimension capable of astonishing the public, without being excessively niche, but rather tickling multiple targets at the same time. All this, however, without falling into pure and simple commercialism. In short, doing everything that once, in the 90s, seemed the prerogative of Miramax, Fox Searchlight or Orion Pictures, with directors like Tarantino, the Wachowski sisters or Zemeckis or Verhoeven. In our minds we probably think that the distribution houses are much less important than the production ones. The latter effectively put on the bank the money with which directors, actors, effects people can create the dreams on the big and small screen with which we try to entertain ourselves and make our lives less boring.

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But the reality is that, however, the distribution companies have an incredibly important task: they take care of creating the trailers, the posters, in fact they buy the films in their version for the public, they take care of positioning them on the market, making them attractive for the reference target and also for the press. From the outset, A24 presented itself as something different from what is already happening on the market, with an aggressive and original tactic, trying to strike the viewer from a visual point of view to captivate their curiosity and sympathy, offering products that are clearly connected to independent cinema, but treated in detail, with names of great appeal and very current themes. Even more indicative of its nature and composition comma is the fact that the A24 was founded in New York, a cinematographic symbol and temple of indie culture and not in the much renowned but now really overcrowded Los Angeles.

" We are not Hollywood" has been the distinctive trait of A24 from the outset, which presented itself with very clear ideas already with Roman Coppola's A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. At the same time, he was releasing one of the last true generational cult hits of modern cinema: Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers. Put this way, it would seem that her identity was already limited to some specific film genres. No sir, because you know perfectly well how much a variety of the offer is always fundamental, Katz, Fenkel and Hodges would then also be interested in science fiction, thrillers, in short, they would have ranged everywhere, telling any idea to distribute that could allow them to consolidate the own name in the eyes of an ever-changing audience. Here is the intuition behind the success of A24: the public is tired of the sterility offered by the major, lives in a semantic and semiotic world interconnected between the videogame universe, TV series, comics, social networks that Disney and co. have only occasionally demonstrated of wanting to involve and make one's own.

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The A24 is quality, authorship and fearless creativity

Ex Machina preceded Room (which earned Brie Larson the Oscar) and then The Whitch. A24 then began dealing with Apple and Prime Video, involving stars such as Scarlett Johansson, James Franco or Robert Pattinson, with the involvement of highly prestigious directors such as Baumbach, Egoyan, Gus Van Sant, Villeneuve. An absolutely fundamental factor is the great climate of collaboration and listening to the authors, their vision, in perfect contrast with what Marvel, Disney, Warner and co have done in the last fifteen years, imposing an ever more stringent dictatorship on the part of the producers and distributors on personal vision. A24 surprises you with colorful, strange films, with touching and atypical stories, with a creative audacity that this year, in fact, with EEAAO has captivated the world. More than a genre film, a film of genres, able to tell us about depression, minorities, the multiverse, the mother-daughter relationship, in short, a bit of everything, seasoned with anal plugs, martial arts and grotesque irony.

Which of the Hollywood giants would have ever allowed a film like this to come out in the form in which EEAAO came out? None, that's right. And it is in this lack of fear, this respect for its audience that A24 has built its success. Moonlight. Here is the turning point. In fact, in 2016 A24 decided that distribution must be a starting point, it also moved on to production, and it was immediately a success with the public and critics. Jenkins' film wins the Oscar for Best Picture and everything seems to go downhill from there. But is it really? Because in the middle there is the Covid-19 pandemic that puts everyone in danger, the small screen that is a resource but also an enemy, the public that no longer wants to leave the house. However, the A24 does not give up, it gives us the Sacrifice of the Sacred Deer by Lanthimos, Mid90s by Hill, winks at the millennials and together with Generation Z, to those who are tired of the usual things but are not even necessarily interested in b-movies too kitsch like the saga of Sharknado and co .

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A24 creates an offer that can intelligently include multiple generations and multiple tastes at the same time. He proves it with The Last Black Man in San Francisco , C'Mon C'Mon , and then the beautiful the Lighthouse . Has authorship found a new home? Yes, and it's free from chaotic executives or last-minute second thoughts. Hodges left the A24 in 2018 but that didn't stop an unstoppable race. Only Macbeth from their films fails, Shults' Waves and Garland's Men are highly rated. Then here comes this year's rebirth of Brendan Fraser in Venice and the madness of the Daniels who took a total of 8 Oscars last night, the most important. Historical evening. But now what will happen? Now we wait Beau is afraid with Joaquin Phoenix , the new season of the Idol on HBO and everything that A24 will give us as it expands an empire that perhaps (maybe) could also save the cinemas that have now become giants of clay.

Because the A24 moves everywhere, it has filled the void left by the extreme commercialization of the majors, slaves to sagas, cinecomics and old infinitely recycled universes: that of innovation and novelty. All while also winning the race against too high costs, the forced gigantism of film production. With Avatar 2 James Cameron won his bet , but by now it is clear that you can not always go to theaters with at least 200 million in investment to double . EEAAO cost 25 million, it collected 110. After all, how much money does it take to do something good? All the money in the world is not worth a good idea, a good script, directors with clear ideas and free to express them and actors who are given the opportunity to experiment. At the same time, new faces and new directors are valued for a new audience. The A24 makes cinema, that something that had disappeared from our radars for a while.

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