This week was the Thanksgiving Holiday in the United States and US cinema operators are giving particular thanks to Netflix for having gifted them a sequel to a blockbuster with an all-star cast and, most importantly, a full one-month window before it streams. Call it a turkey holiday with a large helping of “Glass Onion” on the side, as Rian Johnson’s follow-up to his 2019 hit “Knives Out” that grossed USD $311 million around the world with a new whodunnit hits the big screen.
It will be the first time that major cinema chains such as AMC and Cineworld-owned Regal show the film, though the third largest chain Cinemark had previously released Netflix films such as “Red Notice” on a small number of screens with a brief window. Across the Atlantic exhibitors are thankull without a holiday to go with it, as AMC’s Odeon, Cineworld and Vue play the film across screens in Europe and selected European markets. Smaller operators such as Everyman and Curzon that previously played Netflix are not left out as they too program it widely.
The early reviews indicate that the film looks set to be a hit both critically and commercially. “Another fun, and scathing, Knives Out mystery,” says The Washington Post, while the Irish Independent gushes that “Rian Johnson’s punchy sequel is a whodunnit laced with humour.”
It would seem that the Benoit Blanc Cinematic Universe is facing a brighter future than the Agatha Christie Cinematic Universe, at least based on the underwhelming performance of the “Murder on the Nile,” even as Sir Kenneth Branagh is racing to complete the third film in that series.
Family get-togethers at Thanksgiving are known for sometimes being tense affairs, where old conflicts come to the surface. But with Bob Iger reinstalled at the top of Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery head David Zaslav stating in no uncertain terms that his studio believes in the theatrical window, even new arrival Netflix at the cinema table should mean no drunken shouting matches about streaming and windows. Especially with reports that Amazon is exploring a theatrical-first strategy with its own film titles. Netflix reportedly paid a staggering USD $450 million for two “Knives Out” sequels, so surely cinemas couldn’t ask for a bigger gift this US holiday to fill the gap between “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Avatar: The Way of Water.”
And yet, there is a yet, because Netflix is ultimately about driving people to subscribe and stay with Netflix, rather than going to the cinemas. This “sneak preview” will only see the film play for a one-week window, before we all have to settle back and wait for the Christmas holiday before we can enjoy it in our homes, with hopefully no spoilers or high quality pirate versions to spoil the fun in the interim.
It would be a holiday miracle if “Glass Onion” outgrossed the first film, given that it is only in theatres for a week in hundreds of screens rather than thousands. Of course, we’ll never know, since Netflix isn’t reporting grosses for the film. Netflix will be watching and analysing the box office figures closely, but ultimately it will be Wall Street that decides if the Netflix strategy of releasing films in cinemas and seeing ancillary (pre-cillary?) revenue from this platform will reverse the slide in its share price this year.
The Cinema Foundation’s study with The Quorum released this week shows that television shows topped the interest of what cinema goers would like to see on the big screen. If “Glass Onion” is a big enough cinema and streaming success, maybe we won’t just see “Knives Out 3” released for longer than just a week, but “sneak peaks” of the next seasons of “The Crown” and “Stranger Things” in cinemas. Surely that would make the whole family happy.
Feel the impact of Wakanda Forever
Director Ryan Coogler and composer Ludwig Göransson use Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos to convey a thrilling and meaningful story that blends on- and off-screen tragedies.
Celluloid Junkie is the leading online resource dedicated to the global film and cinema business. The Marquee is our newsletter focused on motion picture exhibition; keeping industry professionals informed of important news, the latest trends and insightful analysis