How A24 Went from Arthouse Startup to First Studio to Sweep All Major Oscars Categories
A little more than 10 years passed from A24’s conception on an Italian roadway to its record-breaking run at the 2023 Academy Awards, when it became the first studio to sweep all six major Oscars categories. That A24 accomplished this feat is a testament to its founders’ vision as well as a changing cinematic landscape. Even before COVID-19, Hollywood studios were already leaning back from mid-budget fare to focus on starry sequels, caped crusaders, and other tentpole blockbusters, and the pandemic only accelerated that trend. These days if a movie cost between $5 million and $50 million, it’s more likely to be found on Netflix than in theaters — unless, that is, it comes from A24.
From bonkers character studies to high-concept horror, thrillers to dramas to what-the-fuck-was-thats, A24 has carved out a recognizable brand by funding talented people and letting them cook. That ethos led the company from arthouse startup to Oscars records in a staggeringly short period of time. Check out key moments from their remarkable rise below.
— Wren Graves
August 12th, 2012: A24 Is Born
A24 actually had its beginnings in the economic downturn of 2008, as studios became less exciting places to work. Three film producers — Daniel Katz of Guggenheim Partners, David Fenkel of Big Beach, and John Hodges of Oscilloscope — wanted to return to the independent ethos of the 1990s, when filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, and the Coen Brothers revitalized the medium.
In 2012, as Katz recalled to GQ, studios had “all these really, really smart, capable, ambitious people that love movies. And they were like the third guy at the company. No one had a voice,” he said. “I felt like there was a huge opportunity to create something where the talented people could be talented.”
During a trip into Rome driving down the A24 motorway, Katz had a “moment of clarity” when he dreamed of starting a new film company. On August 12th, 2012, the dream became a reality.
A24 distributed its first film, Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, in February of 2013. It was a colossal flop, earning a 28/100 on Metacritic before being booed out of theaters. But Katz, Fenkel, and Hodges still believed that a place “where the talented people could be talented” would eventually find success. They wouldn’t have to wait much longer. — W.G.