For a long time, it wasn’t uncommon for distribution bosses to throw shade on one another’s success, but in the case of A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once, there’s nothing but glee emanating from Hollywood for the New York-based indie studio’s success with the martial arts fantasy movie from Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.
At a time when every studio executive around town is questioning what works on the big screen — outside of superhero movies — as the pandemic eases and with specialty cinema slow to rebound, along comes Everything Everywhere All at Once to karate chop those doldrums away and clear $20.5M on a platform release.
Yes, a platform release — you remember those? With NYC and LA the last box office capitals to reopen in early 2021, and specialty cinema audiences skittish to return, most indie distributors sidestepped the pre-pandemic platform rollout, which entails debuting in the two big U.S. box office markets and gradually increasing a theatrical footprint, DMA market by DMA, off great reviews and fervent buzz. Instead, most specialty distributors, including Searchlight and Focus Features, largely have opted to go wide with their arthouse fare in order to get the pics into their home ancillaries as soon as possible and make bank.
Out of the gate, Everything Everywhere All at Once, after a wildly explosive and well-received world premiere as SXSW’s opener, debuted March 25 in 10 theaters to $501K for a $50K per-theater average, ranking as the best limited debut and theater average to date in 2022, and the second-best theater average of the pandemic for a limited release after MGM/UAR’s Licorice Pizza ($86,2K). The domestic gross of Everything Everywhere All at Once already has surpassed Paul Thomas Anderson’s Best Picture Oscar-nominated Licorice Pizza ($17.3M) and another notable pandemic arthouse release, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch ($16.1M).
The movie which stars near-60-year-old Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Michelle Yeoh, genre legend Jamie Lee Curtis, rising actress Stephanie Hsu and reps the return of The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom star Ke Huy Quan has more momentum than A24’s 2015 spring cult hit Ex Machina (which ended its run at $25.4M) and likely will land as the studio’s fourth-highest grossing movie at the domestic box office after Uncut Gems ($50M), Lady Bird ($49M) and Hereditary ($44M), taking over Oscar Best Picture winner Moonlight ($28M).
SXSW Review: The Daniels’ ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’
Now, what makes Everything Everywhere All at Once a bonfire at arthouses is that it’s aimed squarely at the demo that has been fueling the box office rebound during the pandemic, 18- to 34-year-olds. In its wide break, PostTrak audience exits over April 8-10 show that close to 70% of that demographic showed up. So if you’re wondering how to replenish specialty cinemas, or what works in regards to indie cinema, make more movies that appeal to 18-34. And frankly, that’s a young audience that A24 has been betting on for 10 years with movies like Spring Breakers, Hereditary, Midsommar and others.
Meanwhile, for arthouses around the country, to paraphrase one Massachusetts theater manager, Everything “it’s like Batman.” While the pic has crossed over to strong play in the AMC circuit with the Burbank 30 being the highest gross with over $268K through last Sunday in the country, and the Lincoln Square in NYC third with $244K, Everything is also popping at the Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn (pic’s No. 2 location with $265K), as well as Alamo New Mission in San Francisco, Alamo South Lamar in Austin, The Landmark in Los Angeles (where the pic is the No. 1 film in the venue in its fourth week), Cineplex’s Scotiabank in Vancouver, Alamo Drafthouse LA, Williamsburg Cinemas in Brooklyn, the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn, Coolidge Corner in Boston and the Cinepolis Chelsea. Juicing tickets sales for the AGBO produced, Ley Line Entertainment co-financed Daniels movie have been some Imax engagements (there was an event on March 30), of which we hear they’ll be more in those large format auditoriums next week.
How does A24 do it? Note, they’re not the type of distributor to buy up a bulk of nationwide TV ads (which is what Focus Feature is doing this weekend for the New Regency $70M net Viking epic The Northman). The distributor puts its ad dollars largely in digital and social media, the fruits of which can be seen in the till and in the PostTrak exits. Of those who learned about Everything, 27% said they were encouraged to see it based off the trailer in the theater, 26% on YouTube, 22% watched an online trailer while only 11% caught a TV spot.
The Cast Of The Daniels’ ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ Is Having The Time Of Their Lives – SXSW Studio
A24 held grassroots word of mouth screenings, had Alamo Drafthouse screenings with Daniels Q&A, and there was a big San Francisco premiere at the Castro with a full 1,400 attended screening and turnaways.
All of this built up word-of-mouth with PostTrak saying that 46% went to Everything Everywhere All at Once because they heard it was good, 31% came with someone who wanted to see it, while 31% also said they bought tickets because of Yeoh and Curtis. Five stars across the board for Everything with men over 25 (40%) giving it 88%, women over 25 (26%) the same grade, with men under 25 (22%) giving it 90% and women under 25 (13%) an 85% grade. Diversity demos are 46% Caucasian, 21% Asian, 17% Hispanic and Latino, and 12% Black. In sum, the best way to build an audience: Use the movie and use the theaters.
Everything finished shooting right before the pandemic started in early March 2020, with post-production taking place thereafter. A24 wisely held onto this gem, which will be pushed extensively for awards season later this year; Yeoh still never recognized by the Oscars. UK opens on May 13 with an EST release beginning in mid-May. Don’t expect a siphoning of grosses from the home window, for those who watched Everything: 32% said they’d watch it in a movie theater again. It would come as no shock to see this movie, still in the top 10, and the second multiverse choice (granted, not Marvel) for many after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opens on May 6.
Beamed Cinépolis VP Film Joe Garel: “The movie is doing fantastic business for audiences who are looking for something different to see. This is an arthouse film that has crossed boundaries and gone commercial. It’s a win for independent cinema and shows there is an audience out there to see different films. I hope we see more product like this going theatrical, giving more incentive for the audiences to come back in full force.”
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