The soul Mickey's money can't buy: the A24 story

George Bell examines the state of indie cinema in the era of Disney domination

George Bell
23rd March 2020
In a time where cinema is under the tyrannical rule of Disney, it is important to stick up for the little guy and the studios that haven’t sold their souls to Mickey. I can’t think of a better studio for the film industry at the moment that the brilliant A24 with it’s no fucks given attitude of if a director/writer has an interesting idea, then just let them make it.
Bob Iger recently stood down as Disney CEO but under his leadership the Disney media empire acquired many media entities including Marvel & Lucasfilm. Image:Wikimediacommons

Since being founded back in 2012, A24 has produced countless movies, of which a significant number are regarded very well critically. No two films are the same, cover a wide range of issues and styles and are made to excellent quality. How good are they? Well, A24 produced Moonlight (2016), the academy award winner for the best picture if that's any notion. As of 2019, A24 has had an impressive 25 academy award nominations so clearly know what they are doing. But what films have they actually graced our eyes with?

I could name all of them but we’d be here all day and I’m sure you’d like to be doing better things, like watching some A24 films. So, here are just a few to show why A24 is so great *(takes a deep breath)*: The Farewell, The Lighthouse, Midsommar, Uncut Gems (In 2019 alone!), Mid90s (2018), Eighth Grade (2018), Hereditary (2018), Lady Bird (2017), The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), The Florida Project (2017), A Ghost Story (2017), The Lobster (2016), Green Room (2016), The Witch (2016) and Ex Machina (2015) *(exhales)*.

So, as you can see, A24 has clearly not been sitting around and have no end in sight with more interesting projects in the pipeline. If you haven’t seen any of these films you definitely owe it to yourself to go watch at least one and trust me you won’t be disappointed.

Robert Eggers wrote/directed the cult horror masterpiece The VVitch (2016) & the recent Robert Pattinson flick The Lighthouse. Both distributed by A24. Image:IMDB

A24 has been behind so many fantastic films over the past which are sure to be classics in the years to come. Obviously, it’s the writers, directors and everyone else in the film crew that make these films as great as they are and not just the paycheck behind them. But it’s how A24 is willing to take risks in making these projects and give them all the creative freedom they need to make what they set out to do, movies.

Other studios under the shadow of Disney never seem to take risks with what they make, instead of going with what will make them the most money. While that clearly works now with most recent marvel movies earning in the billions, it’s only a matter of time before we get bored. A24, however, are making all sorts so you have no clue what going to come next, making strides in the industry and setting a great example for what all studios: great films first, then profit.

Disney employs around 210,000 people & has an estimated yearly revenue of a staggering $60 billion. And much of that profit comes from their ownership of three massive film franchises - The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Pixar Animation & the Star Wars franchise.

MCU Films - Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Thor (2011) Captain America (2011), The Avengers (2012), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Ant-man (2015), Doctor Strange (2016), Spider-man Homecoming (2017), Black Panther (2018) & Captain Marvel (2019).

Pixar Films - Toy Story (1995), A Bug's Life (1998), Monsters Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006), WALL-E (2008), Up (2009), Brave (2012), Inside Out (2015) & many others.

Many of these films come with sequels, prequels and spin-offs, just to add to Disney's bursting coffers.

Lucasfilm - Entire Star Wars franchise. Since Disney take-over in 2012 the studio has released: Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017), Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) & Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).

Disney also owns Touchstone Pictures, which makes and distributes films aimed at a more mature audience. Films like: Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) Dead Poets Society (1989), Con Air (1997), Armageddon (1998), Pearl Harbour (2001), Signs (2002), War Horse (2011) & Lincoln (2012).

Disney-owned Marvel's Avengers: Endgame is the most financially successful movie of all time. Image:IMDB

All of these movies make monumental profits and regularly end up as the biggest box-office hits of the year. The collected profits of all A24's film doesn't even scratch the surface of the Disney Empire.

Disney doesn't only dominate the cinema industry however, it also owns a substantial amount of TV companies including: ABC, The History Channel, Lifetime, ESPN &, surprisingly, 10% of Vice Media.

It’s a studio that doesn’t just take an interesting direction with its movies but also, it’s marketing style. Typically, A24 doesn’t do a wide release for its films with only 8 of its 64 films being shown in more than 1000 theatres such as Swiss Army Man (2016). This is likely due to a large portion of its films being more artistic and likely not to appeal to a majority. As I described, A24 brings out loads of films each year, on average between 15 and 20, which is impressive for an independent studio where most movies don’t earn as much. This just goes to show a budget isn’t everything. So please go give A24 all your money so they can keep giving us great films.

By now I have probably said A24 almost 24 times but it’s important that the studio that many seem to pass over is actually behind some great films. The Film industry would be a very boring place without them.

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AUTHOR: George Bell
One half film addict, one part computer nerd. All parts Croc lover

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