Box office: ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ expanding

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of chatter about “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the new film from Daniels (aka the filmmaking duo of Daniel Kwan and Dan Scheinert) who previously directed lots of crazy music videos and their 2016 feature debut, “Swiss Army Man.” That outlandish comedy, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano, made waves at Sundance but didn’t do big business when released nationwide into 636 theaters on that 4th of July weekend. He ended up making about $4.2 million, which wouldn’t be bad for a bizarre indie comedy, but this was A24 post-“The Witch” and “Ex Machina” but pre-“Moonlight,” so it was still a distributor finding its voice.

Although “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is just as unique as Daniels’ earlier work, it’s a very different movie. This one stars Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang, a harried woman running a laundromat whose husband (Ke Huy Quan from “The Goonies” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” in his first big movie in many decades) wants a divorce, while her rebellious daughter Eleanor (Stephanie Hsu) just wants her mother to respect her boundaries. Things turn topsy-turvy when Evelyn is informed of a multiverse where she can tap into skills of her alternate selves in order to help save everyone in every universe.

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As of this writing, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has already brought in $1.8 million, but that’s only having been in 36 theaters. This past weekend, it broke into the top 10 despite being in 1,000 fewer theaters than any other movie in the top 10.

This weekend, A24 is going to expand the movie into roughly 1,200 theaters, which is not particularly wide compared to other releases from the studio, including Ti West‘s “X” last month (which also premiered at SXSW in a less high-profile slot) or David Lowery‘s “The Green Knight” last year. That amount is more akin to the 1,468 theaters for “Zola” last year, which A24 went full-blown nationwide right out of the gate.

This expansion for “Everything Everywhere” is kind of important, because it’s only the second major festival release that’s going into theaters nationwide (following “X”), and it’s going to be a good test to see if the age-old tradition of “ platforming” movies – more on that in a second – is worth revisiting or continuing with how quickly movies go to On Demand.

In years past, many studios would open movies in just a few theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a “platform” release, giving the studio more time to build word-of-mouth and do press before expanding across the nation. There were a few studios who have really mastered this art, including Searchlight Studios and Focus Features, but things have changed quite with theaters due to COVID. Smaller movies like “The Outfit” and others that may have just been released in a few cities have had a far more open market to go into 1,000 or more theaters right off the bat.

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What’s interesting about the case for “Everything Everywhere” is that this month has movie theaters starting to get busier again, much like it was pre-COVID with two to three wide releases every week. This is compared to just last month when there may be one or two big studio releases, and then lots of smaller things in between.

A24 certainly has something to prove by taking on Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and a new Michael Bay action movie in “Ambulance,” because it will show that there’s still room in the market for movies that are a little bit out there, as “Everything Everywhere” most definitely is.

A24’s last platform release, “Red Rocket” in December, took the slower roll approach and never got above 400 theaters despite its awards potential. It eventually won a Film Independent Spirit Award for star Simon Rexbut barely made a million domestically.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is already doing better than that with a lot of buzz and interest from parts of the country that will only get a chance to see it for the first time this weekend, so we’ll have to see if this becomes a contender to enter the top 5 this weekend or whether it will still be sitting on the outskirts. Either way, do not underestimate the power of a movie that dares to be different taking on the big studio franchises.

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