A24, the studio behind best picture winner “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” already had an enthusiastic following for its highbrow films and edgy, youthful tastemaker reputation.
That cinephile cred was on full display at Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony, where the press-shy New York indie darling netted its second best picture victory, six years after its upset win for “Moonlight.”
“Everything Everything All at Once,” a frenetic multiversal, multigenerational story about a struggling Chinese American immigrant family, won seven statuettes at the 95th Academy Awards, making it the winningest film of the night.
In addition to the top prize, “Everything Everywhere” won for director (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), lead actress (Michelle Yeoh), supporting actress (Jamie Lee Curtis), supporting actor (Ke Huy Quan), original screenplay and film editing.
A24 captured more kudos than any other distributor, nabbing nine Oscars including lead actor (Brendan Fraser) and makeup and hairstyling for “The Whale.” The company beat Oscar stalwarts including streaming giant Netflix, Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros.
The studio’s success did not come as a surprise. “Everything Everywhere,” a quirky sci-fi action comedy that debuted at last year’s South by Southwest film festival, cleaned up during the precursor awards, including those handed out by unions SAG-AFTRA, the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America.
It’s the latest sign that the company has cemented itself as the indie powerhouse to beat.
Founded in 2012 by Daniel Katz, David Fenkel and John Hodges, the studio has had a string of critical successes including “Ladybird,” “Minari” and “The Farewell.” It is also a player in TV with the Emmy-winning hit “Euphoria” for HBO and Golden Globe-winning “Ramy” on Hulu.
“Moonlight,” the coming-of-age story of a Black gay man in Miami (A24’s first in-house production), pulled off a stunning upset over Lionsgate’s “La La Land” at the 2017 Oscars.
A24’s box office winners have included heady filmmaker-driven horror pictures (Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” and “Midsommar”) and the nervy Adam Sandler thriller “Uncut Gems.”
The “Everything Everywhere” win comes at a time when Hollywood is going through a wave of change.
There is growing hope that moviegoers are returning to theaters after the COVID-19 pandemic led to shutdowns and triggered a new wave of streaming growth as entertainment companies sent their films directly to streaming platforms to satisfy couch-bound audiences.
Lately, streaming services have been going through a retrenchment and studios have largely returned to the practice of putting movies in theaters for weeks, and sometimes months, before making them available for home viewing.
A24’s win is also another feather in the cap of traditional theatrical distribution after years of streamers, including Netflix, trying to spend their way to Oscar glory. Last year, Apple TV+ became the first streaming service to win best picture with its feel-good family drama “CODA.”
A24 is a lean but growing operation, employing 200 people in the U.S. and the U.K. One of its founders, Katz, has a background in banking, having worked at Guggenheim.
A24 recently announced the acquisition of New York’s Cherry Lane Theatre and launched a music venture with Apple and Larry Jackson. It recently raised $225 million in a fundraising led by investment group Stripes. That 10% stake gave the studio a $2.5-billion valuation, allowing it to remain independent and expand production and distribution globally.
A24 entered the awards show with 18 nominations, a record for the studio and the most of any standalone distributor, driven by the 11 nods for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” three for “The Whale” and additional recognition for “Aftersun” and “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On.”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” was A24’s most nominated film to date and its highest-grossing release at the box office, surpassing $108 million in global ticket sales.
Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming giant Netflix fared well with its six awards, considering its German World War I epic “All Quiet on the Western Front” wasn’t considered a major contender until shortly before the nominations were announced.
The Edward Berger-directed antiwar film, which amassed critical praise for its unflinching portrayal of young fighters, won for cinematography, production design, original score and international feature. Netflix also won animated feature for “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” and documentary short film for “The Elephant Whisperers.”
Netflix came in with 16 nominations, compared to 27 the prior year.
Walt Disney Co.’s Searchlight Pictures went home empty handed for its bleak Irish comedy “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
But its owner, Disney, took home Oscars for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” for costume design and James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” for visual effects.
Universal Pictures also went home empty handed for the Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical drama “The Fabelmans.”
Warner Bros.’ over-the-top music biopic “Elvis” and “The Batman” were shut out, but the Burbank studio won one award for CNN Films’ “Navalny” (documentary feature).
Paramount Pictures took home one trophy for “Top Gun: Maverick,” which won for sound.
MGM won adapted screenplay for Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking.”
Apple — last year’s best picture winner — took home one Oscar for animated short film with “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.”