Big Budget Films Disappoint at The Oscars as Smaller Studios Dominate The Evening

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Everything Everywhere All at Once

Credit: Associated Press

Despite Selection Sunday for the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament taking place yesterday afternoon, Sunday night was dominated by the underdogs and Cinderella stories happening over at The Oscars.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his son in Avatar: The Way of Water
Credit: 20th Century Studios

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Last night, Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) was undoubtedly the big winner at this year’s edition of the Academy Awards. The film, made and produced for less than 20 million dollars, dominated the evening by winning The Oscar for best picture and six other titles.

Even more remarkable is how smaller-budget films faired over some of the highest-grossing movies in Hollywood history. However, two of Hollywood’s highest-earning films in history came up disappointingly short in their trophies taken home. Despite the lack of hardware awarded, The Walt Disney Company’s Avatar: The Way of Water (2022), the James Cameron-directed sequel, which earned as much as $2.3 billion, received one Oscar for visual effects. In addition, the Paramount Pictures fighter-jet movie Top Gun: Maverick (2022), which took in nearly $1.5 billion globally, won the Oscar for sound editing. This pales in comparison to Everything Everywhere All at Once, which only generated revenues of $106.7 million in ticket sales globally.

The film studio behind Everything Everywhere All at Once was A24, a smaller studio in Hollywood. According to the Los Angelos Times, it has now seemed to have established itself as the indie powerhouse to beat. A24 was created by Daniel Katz, David Fenkel, and John Hodges and opened its doors in 2012. The studio has had a string of critical successes, including movies such as Lady Bird (2017), Moonlight (2016), and, most recently, The Whale (2022). 

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Credit: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images, i-d.vice

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A24 entered the awards show with 18 nominations, a record for the studio and the most of any standalone distributor, driven by the 11 nods for Everything Everywhere All at Once, three for The Whale, and additional recognition for Aftersun (2022) and Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (2022).

As A24 continues its successes, one can only wonder if the old-school high-budget film distribution industry is the right strategy given the damage that the large film producers have experienced within their stock prices lately on Wall Street.

Do you think the recent success that film studios like A24 will change Hollywood?


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