A24 released a few days’ worth of domestic box office figures for Everything, Everywhere All at Once this morning. First, the film has been placing third since Sunday behind only Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (tops on Monday and Wednesday) and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (tops on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday). Second, the film passed the $20 million mark over the past week, bringing its current 28-day domestic total up to $21.5 million. The $25 million-budgeted multiverse fantasy is already the studio’s eighth biggest (unadjusted) domestic earner and could pass Robert Eggers’ The Witch ($25 million in 2016) this weekend. The Michelle Yeoh/Ke Huy Quan/Stephanie Hsu/James Wong action-comedy expands to 2,400 theaters in weekend five, its third frame of semi-wide release.
Of note, those who were concerned that releasing it in just ten theaters on the first weekend was going to neuter its performance were quite wrong. To be fair, my thinking was that A24 was giving it a weekend or two of huge per-theater averages (it nabbed a $50,130 per-theater average in ten theaters on opening weekend) for at least some positive commercial press in case it dropped dead when it expanded wide. That it continued to play beyond the first burst of interest and media coverage is a genuine “Sometimes people deserve more than the truth” and/or “Don’t give me hope” moment. That I’ve just quoted two of the most popular comic book superhero franchises around is an irony not lost on me, but I digress.
First, sometimes good wills out. In this case, the one-of-a-kind picture, courtesy of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert earned rave reviews and white-hot buzz and then, well, people (relatively speaking) showed up. It’s a world where studio programmers were in commercial peril due to streaming competition years before Covid. It’s a world where those proclaiming to want diversity and inclusivity only seem to mean it for DC/Marvel superhero movies, Disney toons and Fast & Furious flicks. Nonetheless, here’s an inclusive, original, star+concept driven flick that’s the opposite of a relaxing/easy watch. It demands your utmost attention and emotional commitment (seeing it on opening night in the fourth row of the Burbank IMAX was a trip). However, it’s succeeded either despite or because of those very elements.
It also affirms the notion that A24 has become, again relatively speaking, a brand unto itself whose logo will pull younger, more cinematically-curious moviegoers into theaters. That may be a simplification, but Everything, Everywhere All at Once joins The Green Knight ($17 million) as among the few indie flicks outside of the Oscar season that has even remotely broken out in 2021 and 2022. Speaking of awards season, Everything, Everywhere All at Once’s possible $30 million-plus finish (presuming conventional rates of descent) would put it above all last year’s Oscar flicks save for Dune ($108 million), House of Gucci ($52 million) and West Side Story ($39 million). A24 (which sold off overseas distribution to cover the budget) would prefer money over Oscar nominations, but we’ll see.
If the film reaches $28 million, it’ll pass Best Picture winner Moonlight as A24’s fourth-biggest grosser behind Hereditary ($44 million), Lady Bird ($49 million) and Uncut Gems ($50 million) while still being bigger than all but two 2021 Oscar season releases. Whether it even becomes A24’s official big-deal Oscar 2023 contender, critics and pundits will be sounding its praises all year long. That can have an impact, as we’ve seen with Apple’s Coda and Summit’s The Hurt Locker. I can’t imagine A24 doesn’t campaign Ke Huy Quan for Best Supporting Actor. The best result would be merely for the 50-year-old performer to merely get major studio roles that his white peers take for granted (not just Short Round in a future Indiana Jones project).
If I’m more measured, I might argue that the film is the latest example of a demographically specific event movie, in that it has nabbed audiences (including but not limited to Asian Americans) who otherwise would not have bothered going to the movies for any movie. Think, offhand, Christmas with the Chosen ($14 million), Demon Slayer: The Movie ($49 million) and RRR ($13 million as it passes Scream’s $140 million global total worldwide). That the likes of itself and RRR are being sought out theatrically suggests at least some moviegoers want more than just what they’ve become accustomed to. Nonetheless, it’s both a genuinely surprising box office win and “the way it’s supposed to work.” Meanwhile, Sonic 2 is great, but go see Ambulance and The Northman too.