America’s favorite talking shell is back.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, a film directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp, starring Jenny Slate, and distributed by the indie darlings at A24, has hit theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The feature-length project is inspired by a three-minute short, which Fleischer-Camp uploaded to Vimeo nearly 12 years ago.
In both the Marcel videos and the ensuing film, Slate voices the titular shell, who is only about an inch tall. In the original clip, Marcel explains how he uses assorted household objects to bring joy into his life, while also discussing the challenges created by his minute frame. My personal favorite joke: “One time I nibbled on a piece of cheese and my cholesterol went up to 900.”
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In addition to being selected as a Vimeo staff pick, the original Marcel video was a viral smash. It has accrued 1.8 million views to date and has had an undeniable cultural impact. A few years after it came out, Slate’s acting career took off. She wrote, directed, and starred in the 2014 film Obvious Child (which was also distributed by A24) and has appeared in sitcoms like Parks and Recreation and Bob’s Burgers.
Marcel’s arrival on the big screen more than a decade after his first appearance is a remarkable feat. The original Marcel video is so old that many current-day consumers weren’t born when it came out. It’s old enough to feature a flip phone. It has had a longer lifespan than its creators’ romantic relationship; Fleischer-Camp and Slate married in 2012 and filed for divorce four years later.
Clearly, the duo’s split was amicable, because they collaborated on the film version of Marcel, which Fleischer-Camp directed. The flick premiered last year at the Telluride Film Festival, with A24 picking up the rights two months later. After the trailer dropped in April 2022, it received more than three million views, thus demonstrating that the legions of Marcel fans are still out there.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On began a limited theatrical engagement in June, premiering across six different theaters. According to Deadline, the film had the highest per-screen average at the box office during its opening weekend. It took in $169,606, or a little more than $28,000 per theater. The film has also received unanimous rave reviews and has achieved a perfect 100% among critics on Rotten Tomatoes (so far).
If you don’t live in New York or Los Angeles, don’t worry. There’s a good chance Marcel will soon be coming to a screen near you. The next phase of its release will bring it to Austin, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and Washington D.C. After that, it will have a “slow platform rollout” throughout the summer, according to Deadline.