Introducing Marcel The Shell with Shoes, A24’s one inch mollusk making waves across international box offices.
Over the last decade, A24 has been breathing a lease of new life into modern cinema. An art form that has progressively gone downhill in terms of artistry and depth. Thought-provoking films and emotionally driven stories such as Marcel The Shell with Shoes On (2021) seem to be a thing of the past.
The sense-driven filmmaking has since been replaced with what auteur Martin Scorsese described as rollercoaster entertainment. As the years go on, the idols and icons that once dominated the art form seem to be fading away. Not only down to age, but most of all, Hollywood’s need to profit.
Content quality is no longer the priority, it’s all about sales and box office status. Disney and Marvel went from releasing one classic film a year to one every season. Big film companies began to steer away from giving up-and-coming creatives a chance, instead, prioritizing films based on pre-existing fanbases. Reboots, Book Adaptations and even copying foreign cinema. It seems that originality is becoming an increasing thing of the past.
That was before A24. Originally founded as an independent film company in August 2012. A24 went from zero to hero in what seems an instance. Winning an Oscar with their 2016 production Moonlight. Before winning this accolade, A24 had gained quite a cult following amongst New York film students, and European cinephiles.
The 2016 win marked a monumental shift in modern cinema. Never before had independent production companies succeeded at such award ceremonies, at least not in the main categories. Overnight, A24 had brought back the feeling of creative hope. With the likes of Spotlight (2015) and Birdman (2014) winning Best Picture, the years prior. The success which was often associated with big names, big budgets and a massive marketing campaign became a redundant and overused idea overnight.
A24 had proved to the world that in the grand scheme of filmmaking, sometimes less is more. Hitting a home run again with their 2019 release Uncut Gems gaining Oscar nominees. The New York-founded company had proved two things. Moonlight was not a one-hit-wonder. And founders John Hodges, David Fenkel and Daniel Katz, are just getting started.
Now, after making waves across the Academy and international cinema. A24 are back, with what could very well be, their most globally successful movie to date. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. (2021). An hour and a half long stop-motion animation spectacle that’s taking the international box offices by storm.
Starting as a Youtube series created by filmmaker Dean Fleischer-Camp and Actor Jenny Slate, Marcel the minuscule mollusk gained widespread internet acclaim. Gaining over 32 million views on Marcel’s pilot, followed by a further 11.3 and 4.6 million views for the two follow-up episodes.
Marcel, who is a one-eyed seashell wearing a pair of sneakers, came to life in late 2010. Just over a decade later, after battling writer’s block, different potential storylines and finding a budget, Marcel has finally got the long-anticipated introduction to the big screen.
Differing greatly from the runtime of the Youtube videos, the hour-and-a-half-long film is truly a spectacle to behold. With charm and the curiosity of a child, Marcel takes viewers on a journey about life, perspective and self-reflection, whilst simultaneously tackling issues such as grief, dementia and ageing.
The feature-length adaptation was no easy job, not by a fine stretch of the imagination. With the original episodes being filmed inside a bedroom by Dean, taking a large amount of time to produce. It was evident that technical expertise, an extensive crew, and an additional budget were a must to bring the vision to life. Camp had been open in the past about the fear and challenges he faced throughout the production process.
As Marcel was a heartfelt creation shared with his former partner Jenny Slate. Camp was always afraid that extending the scope of Marcel could affect its reception. Afraid that the story could potentially lose its magic.
“I think especially with processes that are really technical. You can easily lose the authentic, organic thing.” Camp told the NY Times.
For months on end, night and day, the whole crew worked tirelessly on the labour of love. And whilst the finished product is truly magical and out-of-this-world, Camp insists “It’s not a David Blaine trick, it’s just a lot of crazy, meticulous planning.”
With an incredibly loving presence and Jenny Slate’s curious and raspy voice, Dean and co have created a new iconic character that will be wasted if no franchise comes to fruition. Filmed all inside one home, the outside world remains to hold plenty of potential and misadventures for Marcel.
In the day and age where stop-motion is a thing of the past, Dean and the cast have reinvented the animation, with Marcel being a huge breath of fresh air. Even with an extensive budget, the crew has excellently been able to create a film so flawless and technically precise, yet still has that handmade feeling to it.
A mockumentary so playful and optimistic, it’ll beg you to see the world differently, appreciating the little things we often take for granted. No chewing gum for the brain, just an adorable misadventure with a character untouched by the starkness and negativity of the outside world.
We can all learn a lot from Marcel the Shell with Shoes.
Having opened initially just six screens in America, LA and New York, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On brought in a total of $170k. Which may not seem like much. But with the six screens extending to more across the states, Marcel has brought in a staggering $1.9 million with international releases yet to be added. Making Camp and Slates passion project one of the most successful A24 box office hits to date.
No matter how big or small you are, always dream big, as anything can be achieved when you set your mind to it. Something we can all learn from Marcel and friends.