A24, the company founded in 2012 by Daniel Katz, David Fenkel and John Hodges, has been hitting the motherlode—for indie companies, anyway—with smart film choices and even smarter ways of bringing them to marketplace, particularly in their increasingly innovative—and, yes, disruptive—use of digital marketing.
It not only has been working at the box office, but also at the Academy Awards, where the company defied expectations and watched their first in-house production, the $1.5 million budgeted Moonlight, take three Oscars, including a surprise Best Picture win, while grossing over $55 million worldwide.
Last year they saw three of their films grab Oscars, including Brie Larson’s Best Actress statuette for Room (a Best Picture nominee), Amy for Best Documentary, and Ex Machina in a stunning upset for Best Visual Effects, the first non-major studio blockbuster-type movie to take that award.
Much of what A24 does is skewed towards a younger demographic, and that is one reason why they buy very little television or newspaper advertising, preferring to spend money hyper-targeting consumers online, where their message can connect more directly with those most likely to respond.
For the low-budget supernatural horror The Witch, the company had a 13-month window to craft a campaign with key social media and smart co-branding, resulting in a $40 million gross. They even picked up Gus Van Sant’s critically vilified 2015 Cannes disaster The Sea of Trees and turned it into a financial success, with the DirecTV deal and focus on PPV strategy.
Recently, they took another risk, world-premiering their upcoming horror title It Comes at Night at the new Overlook Film Festival in Mt. Hood, Oregon, on the site of the hotel used in The Shining. It got rave reviews from the handful of press there, and the company dropped their trailer the next day, which was amplified by the Overlook reaction and Shining comparison, in effect turning the online trailer-drop into something instantly buzz worthy.
The executives at A24 don’t like to repeat themselves, so this year, they have financed the adult-skewing The Lovers; add to that their first foreign-language film, Menashe, a Brooklyn-set feature told in Hebrew. At Cannes, they are launching four new films, including two that played in official competition this week to strong response—Good Time, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer—as well as John Cameron Mitchell’s Out Of Competition entry How to Talk to Girls at Parties and midnight-screening selection A Prayer Before Dawn.