A24 Scores Oscar Sweep, But Secret Founders Avoid Publicity – Variety

A24, the scrappy indie studio that has built a brand as a home for hip, edgy films, triumphed over its wealthier rivals at the Oscars on Sunday. It picked up nine victories, surpassing that of its nearest competitor, Netflix, which had to settle for six trophies. What’s more, A24 not only captured Best Picture for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” but also pulled off the incredibly rare feat of winning every major acting category, with three upcoming statuettes for the movie’s cast. head-turning and grateful adventure The work of Brendan Fraser in ‘The Whale’.

But don’t expect the studio to take a victory lap. Co-founders David Fenkel and Daniel Katz (who named their store after the highway that connects Rome to Teramo) shun the spotlight and have done almost no interviews or profiles, although they have certainly been asked. On the contrary, indie moguls say they prefer to let their films speak for themselves – an anomaly in Hollywood, where executives typically step aside to claim credit for hits.

On Sunday, the biggest night in A24’s history, film director Noah Sacco and head of communications and distribution Nicolette Aizenberg refused to be photographed on the carpet. When Sacco was approached by Variety to mark the occasion with a photo, as executives like Disney’s Bob Iger and Warner Bros.’ David Zaslav have done before. Discovery, he left it to Aizenberg. She politely declined.

“Whatever my work wife says,” Sacco said before heading into the auditorium.

With “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” A24 propelled an offbeat adventure film spanning the metaverse into a box office sensation, grossing over $100 million worldwide – an astonishing result considering the financial struggles it is facing. confronted the arthouse cinema sector. Then, he turned a movie radically far from typical awards bait — a martial arts-infused yarn that featured characters sporting hot dog hands and wielding cocked dildos — into an Oscar juggernaut. Its seven wins are the most Best Picture winners since 2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire” (which won eight).

Admittedly, A24 suffered setbacks on the way to its golden night. Rivals complain that the studio spends too much to market its films and that its smash hits, like “Everything Everywhere,” “Moonlight” and “Hereditary,” punctuate a long list of losers. (Have you ever heard of “Under the Silver Lake” or “When You Finish Saving the World”? A24 also produced those films.) boasting about emerging talent.

In 2020, faced with a tough landscape for theatrical distribution, A24 began exploring a buyout, valuing between $2.5 billion and $3 billion. Whether the offers were not to her liking or she chose to chart a different course, the company ultimately decided to end sales talks. Instead, he announced a $225 million equity investment in a fundraising round led by investment firm Stripes. A24 also poached its first-ever chief financial officer — NBA chief financial officer JB Lockhart — to help find a way for the company to grow organically.

Television is a prime target, especially after the studio delivered the provocative teen drama “Euphoria” to HBO, a ratings hit. On the horizon is the pricey “The Idol,” also on HBO, starring Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd. Next is “The Curse” at Showtime, by the brothers Safdie and Nathan Fielder and starring Emma Stone. On the movie front, there’s Ari Aster’s mainstream drama “Beau Is Afraid” starring Joaquin Phoenix. A24 is also leaning into live event space with the recent acquisition of historic Off Broadway theater Cherry Lane, and diving into music with an investment in Larry Jackson’s startup Gamma.

On Sunday, even A24’s contestants seemed to recognize her achievement at the Oscars. Tom Quinn, co-founder of Neon, an indie studio that’s also made a name for itself dishing out more challenging, cutting-edge fare, compared what A24 achieved to his company’s success in 2019’s “Parasite.” to a better image win.

“I kind of want to go to their party to celebrate if they win,” Quinn confessed on the mat.

He argued that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” demonstrated that there is still an audience for arthouse theatrical releases – something that has been called into question following box failures. -office such as “Tár”, “The Father” and “Armageddon Time”. .” Part of the reason A24 can thrive where others fail is that its films appeal to younger crowds who aren’t as concerned about COVID as older moviegoers; which helped boost ticket sales for “Everything Everywhere”.

“It’s fantastic,” Quinn said. “It’s a real theatrical success. It’s a real piece of cinema. It works on so many different levels. I bet everything.”

And A24’s triumph on Sunday was achieved despite competition from streamers like Netflix. The tech giant has done a lot to upend the way movies are made and seen. He’s also spent lavishly trying, so far unsuccessfully, to score top image statuettes for characters like “Roma”, “The Irishman” and this year’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”.

“What that means is that once again streamers aren’t winning,” says Tom Bernard, co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics, an independent studio that, like A24, is still releasing movies theatrically.

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