At this point, it’s pretty hard to argue with Everything Everywhere All At Once’s hold over the 2023 film awards circuit. With 158 accolades from various major awards shows and critics groups, it passes The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King as the most-awarded movie in Hollywood history – meaning more prizes are pretty much inevitable as it heads into this weekend’s Oscars with a leading 11 nominations, including Best Picture.
But it wasn’t always positioned as an awards darling. Sure, it has beloved stars like Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan (both of whom scored long-overdue Oscar nominations themselves), but it came from the writing/directing duo of the Daniels – previously most well-known for making a movie about Daniel Radcliffe’s farting corpse – and its sci-fi/genre bend makes it an outlier among some of the more traditional awards favorites.
Not only that, but Everything Everywhere had the distinct disadvantage of being released all the way back in March, meaning it had to stay in awards voters’ minds for a whole year. So how did they do it?
A24, the indie studio behind Everything Everywhere, declined to comment on their awards strategy, but we looked back to determine just how the beloved sleeper hit came to be where it is today.
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Dec. 14, 2021: Trailer Debuts and Picks Up Steam
It’s hard to make a splash in today’s movie landscape if you’re not advertising an entry in a major franchise, but Everything Everywhere All At Once did just that with its mind-bending first trailer. It’s hard to track just how much attention it got just with that initial debut, but the trailer now has 23 million views on A24’s YouTube channel alone.
But of course, that wasn’t the true beginning of Everything Everywhere; Daniel Scheinert told Vulture that he and co-director Daniel Kwan “started doing research into the multiverse in 2010,” inspired by the documentary Sherman’s March.It wasn’t until March 2022 that it finally saw the light of day in full… at SXSW.
March 11, 2022: Everything Everywhere All At Once Opens SXSW to Rave Reviews
The film festival circuit is where Oscar campaigns truly start, and Austin’s SXSW festival is the next big one after Sundance. SXSW in particular has had an impressive roster of opening-night movies, including Jordan Peele’s Us in 2019, A Quiet Place in 2018, and Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves for its upcoming 2023 edition. So, Everything Everywhere’s flashy debut was enough to stoke some early excitement.
But the proof is in the pudding (or, uh, hot-dog fingers?), and the rave reviews immediately started rolling out. IGN was among the first to call it a masterpiece in our 10/10 review out of the festival, with Rafael Motamayor writing that it’s “a complex film that encompasses a variety of subjects, but it does justice to each of them with a carefully written script, marvelous performances, and a healthy dose of bizarre humor to counter its bleak story.”
But we were far from the only ones.
“Everything Everywhere All At Once is the most fun I’ve had at the movies… ever,” tweeted critic Karl Delossantos after the SXSW premiere. It’s a “is a magical triumph of cinematic storytelling,” added Trace Thurman.
“Deranged. Hyperkinetic. Endlessly energetic. Heartfelt. Focused,” raved Richard Whittaker.
At this point, the hype was undeniable, at least among film circles.
March 25, 2022: Everything Everywhere Opens in Limited Theaters
Everything Everywhere’s initial opening was a small one to be sure, showing in just ten theaters across Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. But even then, it started showing its strength, making $509k in that first weekend. As The Wrap pointed out at the time, its $51k per-theater average gave it the best opening theater average since 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home.
It would go on to cross the $1 million mark as it expanded to 38 theaters the following week. In its third week, it opened wide, going out to 1,250 theaters and making $6.1 million, scoring sixth place at the box office – a more-than-solid result for an original indie. Unsurprisingly, as A24 confirmed it had a hit on its hands, the theatrical rollout would continue over several more months.
April 16, 2022: A24 Doubles the Theater Count, Continues to Expand, and Cashes in
After that successful third week, A24 doubled the amount of theaters where Everything Everywhere could be seen, going from 1,250 to 2,200 screens and adding $6.1 million to its total that weekend. The rest, as they say, is box office history.
Over the next few months, Everything Everywhere All At Once would open in several international territories and add more screens in IMAX. By the summer, it was a bonafide sleeper hit, crossing $100 million globally at the box office in July even after it became available for home rental. It’s the first A24 film to do so; previously, the studio’s highest-grossing movie was Adam Sandler’s Uncut Gems, which grossed half of that with $50 million.
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Jan. 24, 2023: Everything Everywhere Scores 11 Oscar Nominations and Begins Awards Sweeps
Everything Everywhere started collecting accolades by the end of 2022 with year-end critics lists (winning IGN’s own Best Movie of the Year prize), but the real big leagues are the Academy Award nominations, where it scored a leading 11 nominations. And that’s on top of the awards it’s been collecting for months now.
Among its most prestigious wins: Golden Globes for Yeoh and Quan, a sweep at the Screen Actors Guild Awards with four trophies, seven wins at the Independent Spirit Awards, and the top prize at both the Directors Guild and Writers Guild Awards. It also won Best Film at the Producers Guild Awards, which is often seen as a strong bellwether for the Oscars as so much of its voting base overlaps with that of the Academy’s.
In short, chances are looking good for Yeoh, Quan, the Daniels, and A24 going into the big weekend, and that alone is pretty extraordinary. A year ago, the cast was trying to concisely explain its admittedly WTF premise – “The thing is, in short, how do I explain this movie? I did it and I still don’t know what it’s about” Yeoh joked to IGN at the time.
Now, just about everyone knows about this true multiverse of madness. In a lot of ways – from its undeniable financial success to its passionate following to its pre-Oscars awards pedigree – it’s already won.
Alex Stedman is a Senior News Editor with IGN, overseeing entertainment reporting. When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her reading fantasy novels or playing Dungeons & Dragons.