Cinema Is Not Dead: The Rise Of A24

by Tito W. James

Critics and filmmakers alike have criticized the oversaturation of Hollywood with big-budget comic book blockbuster films. As a passionate fan of of indie films and comic books,  ideally I want to live in a world of faithful and creative comic book adaptations and unique and original indie movies. Some corners of the industry and the internet believe that cinema is dying. I can empathize with the critiques leveled at blockbuster films and I’m personally burnt out on the MCU. However, the number and quality of thought provoking indie films released in recent years makes me think that cinema is not dead.

For the sake of this article let’s refer to “cinema” as creativity that challenges the viewer while “blockbuster” films are creative entertainment. I would argue that A24 films by and large are cinema by this definition. It’s been ten years since the indie entertainment company was founded and now it’s become the face of arthouse films.

A24 distributes and produces around 18 to 20 films a year including films like Hereditary, Lady Bird, Uncut Gems, Moonlight, The Lighthouse, The Green Knight, and Everything Everywhere All At Once. A24 films have a passionate fanbase of young adults, which is arguably the same target audience as blockbuster films.

A24 will also distribute The Whale, a psychological drama film starring Brendan Fraser and directed by Darren Aronofsky (Mother!). The Whale is about 600-pound middle-aged man named Charlie who tries to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter. The two grew apart after Charlie abandoned his family for his gay lover, who later died. Charlie then went on to binge eat out of pain and guilt.

I believe The secret to A24 films success is their ability to match talented actors in genre fiction that speaks to a mature audience. A24 films are not intended to be for everyone, and truth be told, not all of them speak to me. However, it’s important that there is a space for artistic genre films that explore nuanced mature themes that are open for interpretation. These films are not about pleasing the audience with a happy ending and tying up everything neatly with a bow. I hope other independent film studios learn from A24s success and build an audience looking to be challenged by their films.

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