How A24 has sold a well-regarded science fiction action comedy
Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once has the kind of premise that simultaneously is completely insane and makes total sense. Here’s the plot description courtesy of IMDb:
An aging Chinese immigrant is swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led.
Michelle Yeoh stars as Evelyn Wang, the immigrant mentioned above, with Stephanie Hsu playing Evelyn’s daughter Joy and Ke Huy Quan playing Evelyn’s husband Waymond. Jamie Lee Curtis and Jenny Slate also star.
So with such a high profile cast and a logline that intrigues as much as it confuses, let’s take a look at how it’s been sold by A24.
announcement and casting
Yeoh was attached to the movie when it was announced all the way back in 2018 as the next directing project for Daniels (the moniker for the team of Kwan and Scheinert) after 2016’s Swiss Army Man.
Hsu joined the cast in January 2020, replacing Awkwafina, who had to drop out of the role of Evelyn’s daughter due to scheduling conflicts. Curtis and others were also added to the cast at that time, which coincided with A24 acquiring the project.
the marketing campaign
Things started off with a bang in mid-December 2021 when the movie was revealed as the opening feature for that year’s SXSW Film Festival.
Just a short while later the first trailer (6m YouTube views) was released. As it starts, Evelyn and her family are in the middle of what seems to be an IRS audit, in the middle of which she is snatched into an alternate universe where her help is needed. Turns out there are Evelyns scattered across the multiverse and she can access the memories and abilities of all of them. Each of the universes is a little different, of course, meaning we get to see Evelyn in a variety of settings and with a variety of challenges.
A poster came out at the same time that places the movie’s title amidst a sea of art store googly-eyes, an item that plays a role in the story based on its appearances in the trailer.
In February of this year IGN announced this would be among the movies screening at their Fan Fest in the middle of that month.
Quan was interviewed about this being his return to the screen after stepping away for 30 years following iconic roles in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies, a hiatus resulting from constantly being offered offensively stereotypical roles. This script, he said, convinced him it was time to come back.
He joined the rest of the cast to talk about the story and what attracted them all to the project in a panel during IGN’s Fan Fest.
There was a fair amount of coverage of the movie’s massive 48-song soundtrack containing music from Randy Newman, David Byrne and others, including an original score by the band Son Lux.
Yeoh and Curtis shared what it was like to film the movie, especially the fight sequences, in an EW cover story from late February. That story and others from that issue covered Yeoh’s career to date and how she’s stuck to her guns in picking roles that matter to her while also showing off a few new stills from the film and another feature on Quan.
The next poster that came out at the end of February leans into the multiverse concept, with multiple versions of Evelyn and her world arrayed around the center. It’s very trippy and certainly communicates the slightly mind-bending nature of the story. Artist James Jean later revealed the process designs for the poster, showing his outlines and early versions as the final design came into focus.
An interview with Curtis had her talking about collaborating with Daniels and others to create the unusual looks for her character.
The cast and crew returned to SXSW this year for the movie’s red carpet premiere event followed by a Q&A. While there the directors talked about casting Yeoh while everyone expressed their admiration for the story.
That festival screening was accompanied by another extensive THR profile of Yeoh that focused on her status as a screen icon in so many ways, one that has deserved to be a bigger star than she already is given her talents as both an actor and a martial artist. The rest of the cast is quoted extensively singing her praises on all fronts. An NYT profile covered similar ground.
We get a little more background into just how Evelyn can span so many universes in a promo video released just last week. Another video takes a slightly different approach to offering the same kind of information while also highlighting some of the soundtrack.
Curtis showed up on “Kimmel” to promote the movie.
Look, we could discuss how the slightly psychedelic nature of the poster and other materials continues the offbeat branding Daniels established after their first movie.
We could discuss how the audience has been primed recently for a multiverse-centered movie by a bunch of super hero movies that have explored the concept in their own way.
We could discuss how the movie’s 97% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes gives it good word-of-mouth headwinds as it opens in limited release before going wide next week.
But honestly all you need to know and all we need to discuss is that the campaign became a celebration of Yeoh and her awesomeness (as well as a triumphant return for Quan), which is reason enough to call the marketing push a success.