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In a noteworthy moment for Netflix, the three largest theater chains in the U.S. have all agreed to play upcoming tentpole Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery for one week over Thanksgiving, a month before the highly anticipated movie hits the streamer.
The Rian Johnson-directed sequel will open in approximately 600 cinemas. In addition to AMC Theatres, Cinemark Theatres and Regal Cinemas, the film will play in additional select locations in the U.S. and overseas.
The movie’s theatrical run is scheduled for Nov. 23-29 and is part of a campaign to further eventize the film, according to insiders.
“We’re excited to offer fans an exclusive sneak preview of Rian’s incredible film,” said Netflix film boss Scott Stuber in a statement. “Given the excitement surrounding the premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, we hope fans will enjoy this special theatrical event in celebration of the film’s global debut on Netflix in December.”
Added Johnson: “I’m over the moon that Netflix has worked with AMC, Regal and Cinemark to get Glass Onion in theaters for this one of a kind sneak preview.” (It’s been an open secret for months that the director wanted a high-profile theatrical component.)
While Cinemark carried certain Netflix titles during the pandemic, most major cinema circuits have historically refused to book a streaming title that is appearing so quickly in the home. Another major issue is marketing. While Hollywood studios are used to spending tens of millions on a theatrical campaign, Netflix is not.
Sources have been telling THR for several months that marketing has become just as much of a stumbling block as theatrical windows (in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, windows have collapsed dramatically across the industry). Rival distribution executives say they’ve been told by exhibitors that Netflix is committing to a notable spend, although it would cost less to market a title opening on 600 screens, versus a traditional opening on 3,000 or more screens.
AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron said the deal for Knives Out 2 is a win-win for all involved, since cinemas need product.
“This announcement of our first-ever agreement with Netflix is significant for AMC and for movie lovers around the world. As we have often said, we believe that both theatrical exhibitors and streamers can continue to coexist successfully,” Aron said. “Beyond that, though, it has been our desire that we find a way to crack the code and synergistically work together.”
In deference to filmmakers, Netflix has for years given many of its film a theatrical run, but has generally had to rely on independent chains (it also has a stake in The Egyptian and Paris in Los Angeles and New York, respectively). And any film vying for awards needs a qualifying run on the big screen. Netflix doesn’t report grosses, however, and isn’t expected to begin doing so.
Knives Out 2 once again stars Daniel Craig as sleuth Benoit Blanc. This time he is joined by stars Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson and Dave Bautista. Tickets will go on sale Oct. 10.
International markets where the film will play in theaters include Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. Aaron said that Johnson’s sequel will play in 200 AMC locations in the U.S., as well as in many of the company’s Odeon locations in Europe.
The first Knives Out, released by Lionsgate in 2019, was a box office sensation, earning $311.6 million at the global box office. Netflix acquired the rights to two sequels in a $469 million megadeal announced in March 2021. From the perspective of Netflix, a one-week sneak preview doesn’t take away from its primary concern: keeping subscribers satiated.
“We look forward to Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and we will endeavor to continue working with Netflix on future compelling titles that excite and engage theatrical audiences,” Aron said.
Films opening nationwide on Nov. 23 include Disney’s animated feature Strange World, Steven Spielberg’s The Fablemans, UAR’s Bones and All and Sony’s Devotion. Those will play in far more theaters, and even upwards of 3,000. And don’t rule out Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which should remain a powerhouse over the holiday after first hitting the big screen Nov. 11.
Oct. 6, 1:15 p.m.: Updated with exhibitor comments.
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