I know, I know. I’m a little late putting my thoughts on (virtual) paper in regard to Everything Everywhere All At Once. In fact, I’m probably the last person chiming in here. At least nine times out of ten, I’m among the first for any given film, so forgive me, but also…it happens. Just enjoy the change of pace. For those of you who don’t know, it took me a little longer than most to get around to seeing Everything Everywhere All At Once, but now that I’ve had a bit to process it, I wanted to write a little something about it. Namely, I wanted to continue to champion not just the work, but the success of the work. Read on to see what I mean.
This isn’t my review of the latest from the filmmaking team known as Daniels. We already have a rave here on the site, in fact. So, while I wholeheartedly agree that they did amazing work, with leading lady Michelle Yeoh really going above and beyond, it would be repetitive to do just that. Instead, while I won’t completely ignore the movie itself, the aftermath of its release is really something to behold.
For those unaware, A24 released Everything Everywhere All At Once back in March, after giving it a bow at South by Southwest. Interestingly, one of the first reactions anywhere to Everything Everywhere All At Once was from one of the trades during SXSW, and it was a bit mixed. That would be one of the last times you’d see anything but worship in regards to the film. Its release was met with raves, as well as a very healthy limited screen box office cume. Then, it just kept making money, even as it expanded. Now, at almost $50 million just domestically, it’s not just become the highest grossing A24 release to date, it’s one of the bigger crossover successes in some time. That this specific flick has pulled it off, at this particular time, is truly noteworthy.
That being said, the picture really is brilliant. An intimate tale of a mother and daughter couched in an epic, sprawling multiverse action-adventure? Yes please. Concerned with no less than the meaning of existence, the film still finds time for juvenile humor, sight gags, and references galore. Whether you like Pixar or Wong Kar-wai, there’s an homage for you. All this in a movie that asks you to seriously consider if existence is meaningless? Maybe it is, but maybe, it has more meaning than you ever could imagine? Truly terrific stuff.
If you look at the type of independent release that general audiences tend to embrace, it’s not something like this. The work tends to be less weird, the stars tend to be bigger, and the concept tends to be a little easier to sink your teeth into. That crowds are willing to do the work and open themselves to what is going on, really does hammer home how it’s something special. Plus, how many hits feature not just talking rocks and animals, but a sex toy fight? It’s a tiny list, to be certain.
Everything Everywhere All At Once isn’t saving the theatrical experience on its own, but it is showing how people will show up for more than just tentpoles. This is a word of mouth success, so while Marvel and the like will always have a disproportionate share of the market, the door isn’t fully closed to indies breaking out. If you’ve got the goods, you’ve got a chance. When this happens, it just provides a boost to the industry, creating optimism for what’s to come.
On the micro end of things, look at what it has passed on A24’s list. Taking the pole position from Uncut Gems, after surpassing the likes of Hereditary, Lady Bird, and more, has shown that a wide variety of audiences are engaging with this one. On the macro scale, it’s in the top fifteen overall for the 2022 box office, ahead of such things like Ambulance, Death on the Nile, Moonfall, and The Northman. Those are titles that expected to be potential blockbusters, not just hits. So, while they under-performed, Everything Everywhere All At Once more than did the opposite, with still more to come.
Why has it happened for this movie? Part of the fun is that there isn’t any one reason. It has just connected with folks in a profound way. If we’re looking for factors that could have worked in its favor, having been only available in theaters and not On Demand until last week probably helped. It created a bit of an event feel to it, which we don’t have much of, outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Speaking of, coming right around the same time as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was gearing up, there was a healthy interest in multiverses. Then, having the cast be as diverse as it is, eschewing this just being another story populated by white males, allowed it to further stand out. That mixture, among many other factors, has created a special sauce that gave the indie rarified must-see status.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t quickly mention how much I adored the rock universe within the film, as well as the homage to Ratatouille. The movie is emotional, funny, and constantly re-inventing itself. Both of the Daniels really have evolved as storytellers, while Yeoh, in my humble opinion, has never been better. Without question, this is one of 2022’s cinematic highlights so far.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is still making money, still building buzz, and shows no signs of slowing down. Whether it turns into Oscar attention at the end of the year/beginning of next year remains to be seen, but it’s hard to bet against this one right now. Even regardless of that, we just have a film that’s over-performed while coming from humble beginnings. Who can’t get behind that? The movie being a hit is good for the industry, plain and simple.
What are your thoughts on the success of Everything Everywhere All At Once? Let us know!