At the box office, A24’s genre-bending black comedy “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has become the little indie that could.
After six weeks in theaters, the film has grossed $35 million in North America, an impressive sum for an arthouse flick. Those ticket sales are a positive indication that adult audiences will return to the big screen for the right movie, and also a reminder that ticket buyers really love the concept of a multiverse.
Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the well-reviewed “Everything Everywhere All at Once” stars Michelle Yeoh as a wife and mother who exists in a multiverse, a term popularized by Marvel comic book adventures like “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and the upcoming “Doctor Strange” sequel. In “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Yeoh’s Evelyn Wang is being audited by the IRS when she discovers she has to connect with parallel universe versions of herself to prevent cataclysmic destruction. The plot also involves family, everything bagels and hot dogs for fingers. Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, James Hong, Jenny Slate and Jamie Lee Curtis round out the cast.
Over the weekend, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” added $5.5 million from 2,200 cinemas, marking a 2% uptick from last weekend’s tally. That increase can be attributed to IMAX, where the film collected $850,000 from 256 screens between Friday and Sunday.
Box office returns for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” are especially notable because it’s one of the first pandemic-era indie movies to benefit from a platform release. The strategy, used primarily for arthouse films as a tool to build awareness and boost word-of mouth, proved to be mostly impossible in COVID-19 times. That’s because said releases usually begin in Los Angeles and New York City, where theaters were among the last to reopen as the virus remained stubborn. When cinemas across the globe were able to reopen in earnest, older crowds (the target demo for platform releases) were slower to return compared to younger patrons. Hence the blockbuster turnouts for “Venom: Let There be Carnage,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “The Batman” and lackluster attendance for films like Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and Guillermo Del Toro’s sleek thriller “Nightmare Alley.” In the case of “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the film managed to successfully drum up positive sentiments before expanding to theaters nationwide.
David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research, says the box office milestone points to one truth: “There’s still plenty of room for well-produced, original, creatively-told stories on the big screen.”
He adds, “Platforms have never been easy and I don’t think that will change — they will remain rare. But when a movie is compelling enough, audiences will find that movie and platforming works.”
Critics have been fond of the film, which boasts a 97% average rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In a praising review, New York Times film critic A.O. Scott called “Everything Everywhere All at Once” a film that is “messy and glorious.”
“This movie’s plot is as full of twists and kinks as the pot of noodles that appears in an early scene,” Scott wrote. “Spoiling it would be impossible. Summarizing it would take forever — literally!”
Since the film cost $25 million to produce, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” will need to keep trucking along in theaters to achieve profitability. Given the enthusiastic reception from audiences, it’s likely to gain traction on home entertainment platforms as moviegoers seek repeat viewings.
A24 executives, encouraged by stellar week-to-week holds, said Sunday in a note to press, “With no signs of slowing down, ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ will continue its theatrical run well into the summer.”
If that’s true, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has a chance at dethroning Adam Sandler’s “Uncut Gems” ($50 million) as A24’s highest grossing movie in North America. Globally, the studio’s biggest box office earner is Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” with $79 million worldwide, followed by Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age story “Lady Bird” with $78 million worldwide.