When '' Everything Everywhere All at Once '' opened last March in a handful of theaters, its creators, the director Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, weren't sure what to expect.

The film had stars - ''I thought we could bill it as ' Michelle Yeoh fights Jamie Lee Curtis,' '' Scheinert said - but was otherwise tough to pigeonhole.

It was a multiverse picture, sure, but instead of superheroes and spaceships, there were fights with fanny packs, cinematic shout-outs to Wong Kar-wai and Stanley Kubrick, and a singing raccoon. And then there was the pandemic, and who knew what that would do to box office numbers?

''I went in with very low expectations, because there were a lot of unknowns,'' Kwan said.

Instead, the movie became one of the sleeper hits of last year and is nominated for 10 British Academy Film Awards, including best film and director. Strong reviews helped : On Rotten Tomatoes, the film was rated 95 percent fresh, while The Times called it ''an exuberant swirl of genre anarchy'' and praised its '' sincere and generous heart. ''

The film also benefited from exuberant word of mouth, which included viewers posting photos and videos of themselves on social media having a good cry or three.

''It's been very humbling and inspiring and confusing,'' Scheinert said.

In the film, Yeoh stars as a laundromat owner who must call upon various alter egos in parallel worlds to battle a mysterious power out to destroy the multiverse.

In August, Kwan and Scheinert, known professionally as Daniels spoke - via video call from their separate homes in Los Angeles - about the film's slow-burn, still burning success; how Yeoh and Curtis ended up with wieners for fingers; and why, with a movie about infinite possibilities, they wouldn't change a thing.

The following conversation has been edited and condensed.

.- The film had a pretty small first weekend release. What was it like watching audiences discover the film?

DANIEL SCHEINERT: I'm grateful that it's been slow, because I think it allowed us to process how people were reacting. At those early screenings, people would stay after to talk with us, and a good number of them would cry while talking about it.

DANIEL KWAN : That first month was very emotional. It became this version of group therapy for certain people, especially at college campuses.

For a lot of younger Asian American kids, especially children of immigrants, they'd come up to me, and they wouldn't even be asking about the movie past a certain point.

They'd be asking about their own life, like, so what do I do? How do I talk to my parents? And like, I'm not a therapist. My relationship with my parents is good, but it's good for an Asian American immigrant relationship.

.- Everything is hard to describe. How would you describe it?

SCHEINERT : Michelle Yeoh stars in an action-adventure movie, but it's in the multiverse. So we get to interrupt that movie with a family drama and then interrupt that with a romance and then interrupt that with an absurdist comedy.

And all of that is a fun way to play with how overwhelming life is these days. But at the end of the day, it's a story about a family.

KWAN : And then the really dumb pitch is : It's like if my mom was in ''The Matrix.''

The Publishing continues. The World Students Society thanks author Robert Ito.


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