It seems as though A24 just can’t put a foot wrong at the moment, as their new Ari Aster movie Beau Is Afraid – which stars Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role – has enjoyed the biggest independent Box Office opening of 2023 to date.
The movie grossed $320,396 across four New York and Los Angeles screens, which translates to an impressive $80,099 per location, the biggest screen average of the year, according to Variety.
The movie stars Phoenix in the lead role as an anxious middle-aged man who hits a rollercoaster of emotion as he faces his worst fears. The synopsis reads: “Following the sudden death of his mother, a mild-mannered but anxiety-ridden man confronts his darkest fears as he embarks on an epic, Kafkaesque odyssey back home.”
Beau Is Afraid has been favoured by critics, but it has no doubt benefitted from Aster’s elevated status following his rise to popularity with his pioneering, disturbing movies of 2018 and 2019, respectively, Midsommar and Hereditary.
The Guardian referred to it as “mock Oedipal agony,” TIME called it “a banquet of all the TMI you can eat,” and Vanity Fair said that despite how “irksome (or worse)” some of the film may be, it has a “gravitational pull.”
The movie’s opening box office success makes it the second-best per-screen average for A24 after the Safdie brothers’ highly successful crime drama of 2019, Uncut Gems. The movie, starring Adam Sandler and Julia Fox, was a critical and commercial gem (apologies for the cheap pun).
In recent months, A24 has also found success with the Oscar-winning movies Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Whale, which saw huge box office returns. Meanwhile, Tár and Triangle of Sadness were critically favoured but struggled to gain commercial traction.