On their website, you can buy a hat for $35, a grooming set for $42, candles for $48, T-shirts, hoodies, socks, and even beach towels ($45). The majority of items have the words “SOLD OUT” next to them. It’s not a fashion brand, or a beauty publication, or even a simple clothing line. This is the hipster entertainment production and distribution company: A24.
Since three film financiers founded A24 in 2012, the company has released close to 100 films, 18 this year alone. A24’s first release, in 2013, was Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III, a film panned by critics and audiences alike, but the majority of A24 films since then have garnered wide acclaim, with hits such as The Spectacular Now, Lady Bird, Moonlight, Room, and Hereditary.
People love A24. They’re one of the hottest production companies in the country, winning awards and winning the box office. They’re one of the few studios to inspire brand loyalty. But why is A24 so popular?
Accessibility On and Off the Screen
In 2019, A24 ran a program called Public Access. They revealed coordinates along with dates, times, and movie titles, screening popular films in the cities they depicted, like Lady Bird in Sacramento and Good Time in Queens.
People came far and wide to sit in lawn chairs, pick up new merch, and watch these movies projected on billboards. If you were stopped at a red light nearby, you could catch a couple minutes of a popular A24 film. On social media, anyway, these events looked liked massive hits.
On the screen, A24 often invests in a specific type of movie: one made by a new-ish writer/director, starring actors we’ve seen before. We come for the actors, and then keep coming back for the filmmakers. For example, Moonlight was Barry Jenkins’ feature debut, starring Mahershala Ali. Ex Machina was Alex Garland’s directorial debut, starring Oscar Isaac. Swiss Army Man with Daniel Radcliffe. Good Time with Robert Pattinson. Hereditary with Toni Colette. The list goes on and on.
Shopping and Social Media
As mentioned earlier, A24 has a massively popular online shop. Recently, they released hardcover screenplay books for three of their biggest hits: Moonlight, Ex Machina, and The Witch. These books cost $60, and only 2,000 copies were printed in the first run. When the books were announced, Twitter pandemonium ensued. The Moonlight book was sold out within minutes.
The rest of the shop follows suit. The supply stays low, the demand stays high. At least half of the items in the A24 shop have been sold out for months. Everything feels limited edition. Their logo is simple, yet easy to recognize. They have their most famous and most popular directors write and edit zines. They’ve become the Urban Outfitters of film production.
In terms of social media, A24 has 1.5 million followers on Twitter and 429,000 followers on Instagram. They post regularly, usually a few times per week, with a mix of trailers, product photoshoots, and Polaroids with filmmakers and actors in the A24 family. They have no problem using profane or weird language, giving the air of someone in their early 20s who understands how this social world works.
A24 also has a podcast pairing interesting filmmakers and actors for unmoderated 45-minute conversations, leading to a once-a-month insightful or hilarious chat.
They’ve captured the young audience, corralling the group of moviegoers watching streaming services, buying up subscription services like the AMC A-List, and most importantly, those who use social media with fervor.
The Movies Themselves
A24 picks and produces critically acclaimed films. Of the 18 movies released so far in 2019, 16 are rated Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Moonlight‘s win for Best Picture was a high point, and it helped A24’s image as a forward-thinking, inclusive, diverse company — even though most A24 films are white, straight stories made by white, straight filmmakers.
A24 produces and distributes important works by up-and-coming filmmakers. They dole out space and money for stories that matter. They cultivate an openness with the audience that you don’t see from most production companies. The A24 religion might have only started earlier this decade, but from the looks of the Ex Machina book sitting on my coffee table, this once-little production company has no plans of slowing down.