After the success of Everything Everywhere, what’s next for smaller films?

The little film that could everything everywhere at once won just about every Oscar he was nominated for Sunday night, losing only to himself when Jamie Lee Curtis defeated Stephanie Hsu for best supporting actress.

Along the way, EEAAO He also amassed nearly $107 million in worldwide box office for distributor A24 before moving to streaming on what remains of Paramount Global’s Showtime service, now consolidated into Paramount Plus. Not bad, especially for a film that cost around $20 million to make (A24 spent millions more marketing the film, especially since it surprisingly became an Oscar contender that fall).

For the ailing indie film business EEAAOs success was a heartwarming tale of what’s possible after three pandemic-cursed years of closed art house theatres, mothballed festivals, stay-at-home audiences and an explosion of new streaming services with expansive libraries and some shiny new shows.

So, are we finally over this terrible time in the movie business? Is everything ok now? What next for smaller films? Can/should any wannabe follow-up replicate EEAAO’s unusually early theatrical-only release, settle down long before finally making it to home entertainment, and slowly soar to monstrous success?

The industry certainly hopes so if a recent Financial Times article (“Hollywood Strikes Back Against Streaming”) suggests anything.

Yes, media companies are shifting to more nuanced release strategies that will routinely include a theatrical release first rather than relying solely on the still-nascent streaming services to pay for everything and reach the largest audiences in the most efficient way.

That doesn’t mean, however, that many medium-sized projects are being done by Hollywood media companies.

They’re still focused on expensive sequels and spinoffs from safe, popular franchises, as Disney demonstrated last year Avatar: The Way of Water and Paramount did it with Top Gun: Maverick. Each grossed well over $1.5 billion worldwide, between 15 and 23 times what EEAAO grossed.

That these blockbusters also received Best Picture nominations was perhaps as much due to their outsized impact on the tattered theatrical performance business as they were to their own charm as artistic expression. Regardless, both stayed in theaters for months instead of moving to streaming within weeks.

And the lockdown-era experimentation in streaming-only releases of many other projects seems to be mostly over now too.

IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond stated, “Theatrical performance improves streaming performance. The programmers were naïve when they thought people would sit on their sofas and look at every piece of content. The market has corrected.”

Perhaps. Certainly debt-ridden Warner Bros. Discovery has scrapped plans for pretty much every streaming-only original coming to HBO Max, most notoriously for a near-done $90 million bat girl Feature deferred in August to request a tax write-off.

Executives said WBD will be making more franchise-based big swings, particularly from the Harry Potter universe and a revamped DC universe under a new creative team led by GGuardians of the Galaxy Writer/directors James Gunn and Peter Safran.

Over at Disney, recently-returned CEO Bob Iger is “aggressively” curating the “general entertainment” programming on Disney Plus and Hulu. That means there’s less emphasis on smaller projects like romantic comedies, family dramas, thrillers, horror (especially at Disney) and the like.

Of course, if your media company owns Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar, you’ll love to sing the praises of branded franchises and focus heavily on them to drive revenue.

It’s possible that Iger fooled around a bit publicly and downplayed the content on Hulu so his company wouldn’t have to spend so much to buy out Comcasts
Minority stake in Hulu. Regardless, his comments don’t indicate much enthusiasm from companies for smaller projects, many of which have found streaming-first-only homes during the pandemic. Will these projects hit theaters first like their blockbuster brethren?

At least the top gun And avatar Sequels proved that people would go to theaters again. Big is still going strong, even if in 2022 the domestic box office was still only two-thirds of its pre-pandemic highs and about half as many films were released, according to figures from the National Association of Theater Owners.

Some fans of smaller projects, like Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman, say there are small works, too. He pointed to modestly budgeted projects like Sony’s A man named Otto with Tom Hanks as a grumpy old man. The English-language remake of a Scandinavian film has grossed almost as much as $108 million EEAAO, according to

Elizabeth Banks had a cheesy hit (and a goofy Oscar ceremony trick emphasizing the value of visual effects) with the comedy horror cocaine bear. Her studio, Universal, had too m3gan, who turned out to have surprisingly strong legs for a movie about a murderously overprotective doll. M3gan also sparked many cultural conversations, unusual for a genre film.

“There are actually a lot of mid-budget original films that have been extremely successful even in the last six months,” Rothman told the FT. “It’s not true that audiences only want sequels and superheroes.”

That could be true. Hollywood has lamented the decline of medium-sized film for decades. The profitability of such projects has not been optimal for a long time. EEAAO gives hope to optimists, but it doesn’t definitely signal a new era of Kramer against Kramer dramas for adults Sleepless in Seattle Rom-coms are coming to a theater near you.

The biggest problem: the audience Are come to the theatres. If you’re under 35, you’re probably more likely to play video games, watch TikTok or Instagram Reels, or stream those mid-budget rom-coms and dramas on Netflix and its struggling competitors than go to a cinema to watch a smaller movie to see.

EEAAO proved that an original screenplay with a wildly over-the-top energy that hides a fairly traditional story of a complicated mother-daughter relationship can eventually attract crowds, wins and awards.

The next question is whether Hollywood would like to make more films EEAAO, without just copying EEAAO. And this happy ending has not yet been written.

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