When discussing great films, renowned directors like Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, and Jordan Peele, as well as esteemed actors such as Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, and Morgan Freeman, often come to mind. However, in recent years, a new name has emerged in the world of cinema, but it’s not an individual—it’s a studio: A24.
A24 films have garnered over 50 Oscar nominations and have won 16, making a significant impact in Hollywood. They have not only captured the attention of moviegoers but have also influenced popular culture, extending their reach beyond the big screen. With their distinctive approach to filmmaking and marketing, A24 has transitioned from a small distribution company to a creator of some of the most unconventional and remarkable movies and TV shows of the past decade.
A24 was founded on two fundamental creative principles. First, they aimed to provide directors with unparalleled creative freedom, understanding the inherent artistic risks involved. To support this vision, they decided to forgo traditional and expensive forms of marketing, opting instead for viral marketing and word-of-mouth strategies. By employing cost-effective methods to generate buzz and draw attention to their movies, A24 could allocate more resources to nurturing creative freedom.
In their early years, A24 primarily focused on acquiring distribution rights for independent films rather than producing them. This approach offered several advantages, such as reduced financial risks compared to film production. By selecting already completed films, A24 could curate a strong brand identity as a distributor of exceptional indie movies.
To illustrate how A24’s strategies converge, let’s examine their first breakthrough hit, “Spring Breakers.” This film, directed by Harmony Korine, served as an excellent introduction to the A24 style. Its striking visual choices, such as rain that resembled blood and a neon color palette that would become synonymous with A24 films, immediately caught viewers’ attention. Moreover, “Spring Breakers” featured a unique hook, with Disney starlets like Selena Gomez engaging in rebellious and gritty behavior, subverting their clean-cut personas. The film also contained memeable sequences, like James Franco’s memorable “Look at my shit” speech, which resonated with audiences and contributed to its online buzz.
A24’s innovative online marketing strategy further propelled the success of “Spring Breakers.” They leveraged GIFs and memes to generate excitement and intrigue around the film, capitalizing on social media platforms and online communities. Their efforts paid off, as “Spring Breakers” set per screen attendance records for its opening weekend and became one of the highest-grossing limited releases that year. The film’s popularity demonstrated the effectiveness of A24’s approach: curating distinct and buzzworthy movies, marketing them online for increased virality, and distributing them strategically to achieve box office success.
The success of “Spring Breakers” set the stage for A24’s future accomplishments. The studio established a strong brand identity, known for giving opportunities to up-and-coming directors and launching their careers. Directors like Ari Aster, the Daniels, and Robert Eggers found a supportive home at A24, which helped elevate their artistic visions and bring them to wider audiences. A24 also provided platforms for renowned actors to explore their directorial talents, as seen with Greta Gerwig, Jonah Hill, and Bo Burnham.
A24’s shrewd marketing tactics were evident in the promotion of “Ex Machina.” They created a Tinder account for Alicia Vikander’s lead character, inviting men to watch the film and tapping into the viral potential of online dating platforms. Additionally, A24 films like “Room” achieved critical acclaim and success at prestigious award ceremonies like the Oscars, winning accolades for Best Actress (Brie Larson), Best Visual Effects (Ex Machina), and Best Documentary (Amy).
In 2017, A24 expanded its presence into television with shows like “Euphoria” and “Beef.” While the A24 brand may not be as prominent in the TV landscape due to partnerships with established networks like HBO and Netflix, their distinctive style still shines through. Additionally, A24 capitalized on merchandising opportunities, not just for their films but for the studio itself. They created limited edition A24 merchandise, collaborated with artists and designers, and built a sense of exclusivity and cult-like devotion among fans.
@nicholasjanzen This website made me feel poor. 😅#greenscreen #a24 #filmtiktok #movies #merch #rating #film ♬ vlog type beat – Fleeky
A24’s ability to cultivate a unique identity and create a dedicated fan base sets them apart from other indie studios. Their strategies borrow from the fashion industry, employing collaborations and limited edition drops to build anticipation and create a sense of exclusivity. A24 has achieved a level of brand recognition and devotion that is unparalleled in the independent film landscape.
While A24 has undoubtedly experienced remarkable success, it is essential to acknowledge that they have also released films that did not resonate with audiences. However, due to their extensive film output compared to other studios, these missteps often fly under the radar. A24 has partnerships with DirecTV and Apple TV, enabling them to quietly distribute movies they deem less successful. These films may not receive as much attention or play at prominent theaters but still find an audience through alternative channels.
A closer examination of A24’s filmography reveals numerous lesser-known films, such as “The Adderall Diaries,” “The Kill Team,” and “Revenge of the Green Dragons,” that may have gone unnoticed by the general public. However, these missteps do not overshadow the studio’s substantial achievements, as their tried and true strategies continue to deliver significant successes.
When discussing A24 with fans, one common thread emerges—their appreciation for the studio’s commitment to providing something different and offbeat. In an industry often saturated with corporate and formulaic productions, A24’s films offer a refreshing and distinctive cinematic experience. While there is always a chance that an A24 film may not resonate or even be considered terrible, there is a consistent understanding that their films will be intriguingly unconventional, pushing boundaries, and offering something that audiences may not have seen before.
The name “A24” itself holds no profound symbolism. It originated from an Italian highway that leads out of Rome—an abstract and mysterious choice made by someone driving on that road. This enigmatic name aligns with the studio’s ethos and sparks curiosity among audiences, much like their films. A24 films often leave viewers with a sense that there must be something deeper, a hidden meaning to explore.
Reflecting on A24’s trajectory, one can easily be captivated by their remarkable achievements and seemingly Midas touch. However, it is important not to exaggerate their success. Like any studio, A24 has also produced films that did not meet expectations. The difference lies in their ability to prioritize and highlight their most remarkable works, which ultimately overshadow their missteps.
A24’s impact on Hollywood extends far beyond the movies themselves. They have challenged the industry’s norms, championed unique storytelling, and reshaped the perception of independent studios. By embracing creative freedom, employing innovative marketing strategies, and supporting emerging talent, A24 has carved out a distinct niche and become a respected and influential force in the film industry. Their success demonstrates that there is an appetite for bold, unconventional storytelling, and A24 continues to deliver it.