Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery reveals layers of Netflix’s theatrical rollout

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery has become a holiday hit at the box office for Netflix.

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Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery reveals layers of Netflix’s theatrical rollout


The Future. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery has become a holiday hit at the box office for Netflix… but only for the holiday. Netflix’s week-long “sneak preview” of the mystery movie may mean that Netflix is foregoing outsized, long-term theatrical revenue in favor of its streaming priorities. While co-CEO Ted Sarandos walked back previous comments that Glass Onion would be a test for Netflix’s theatrical ambitions, the success may prove to the company’s investors that, for some movies, theatrical may make the best financial success.

Evidence of a hit
Is Glass Onion growing a theatrical franchise for Netflix?

  • Deadline reports that over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, Glass Onion made $13.3 million… which is projected to hit $15 million by the movie’s last showing on Tuesday.
  • That number is from only about 700 theaters in North America alone.
  • Despite quite a few movies debuting, it was #3 at the box office — behind only Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Disney’s animated Strange World.
  • It’s not only the best-ever rollout for a Netflix movie before it hits the service but is the 10th-best launch of a movie playing in under 900 theaters.

But while most studios would increase the number of screens that Glass Onion is playing on to meet demand, Netflix is adamant that Tuesday will be the last day the movie will play — it’s sticking to the one-week “sneak preview” plan. It hits the service on December 23.

Theaters can re-book the movie after the Netflix premiere, although very unlikely.

Bigger mysteries
So, the question on Hollywood’s mind is: “how much money would Glass Onion have made if it was given a full theatrical release?”

  • The first Knives Out (distributed by Lionsgate) made $41.4 million during the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday weekend and eventually topped out at $313 million globally at the end of its run.
  • Analysts believe that Glass Onion, which is just as critically acclaimed as Knives Out, would do similar business.
  • That would’ve been great news for Netflix, which paid Rian Johnson and producer Ram Bergman $469 million for the rights to make two sequels.

But since Netflix opted for the one-week exclusive run (most likely to appease Johnson) while giving the top theater chains a discount to play it and spending quite a bit on marketing it, the streamer likely left a lot of money on the table.

For Netflix, the hope may be that direct subscriber revenue (because of the movie being on the platform) will be just as financially rewarding.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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