Over the 5-day Thanksgiving stretch, Netflix’s one-week sneak preview of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery buried all new and old major studio adult counterprogramming with an estimated $13.3M over 5-days for what is projected to be a $15M first week by Tuesday.
Far and away, this is the best theatrical launch ever for a Netflix pre-streaming movie. Last year‘s Dwayne Johnson-Ryan Reynolds-Gal Gadot action title Red Notice is arguably their best, with a $1.25M-$1.5M 3 day opening. That pic is also their most-watched worldwide at 364M-plus hours. Glass Onion‘s 3-day of $9.3M is the 10th-best for a title opening in less than 900 theaters, notching just above such movies as TriStar’s The Doors in 1991 ($9.1M at 840 theaters) and Universal’s 2004 Nov. 12-14 launch of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which posted $8.68M at 530 theaters.
This Thanksgiving, no one in massive droves wanted to see a Korean Navy fighter pilot movie (Devotion at $9M 3-day) a cannibals’ love story (Bones and All at $3.5M) or the autobiopic of Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans at $3.1M). For executives wondering, ‘Gosh, what type of adult fare works in a tough marketplace?’, certainly not this somber stuff. It’s a sequel to a beloved, comedic whodunit with a glitzy cast that includes Daniel Craig, Janelle Monae, Dave Bautista, Edward Norton, Kate Hudson etc. It stands to reason that Knives Out 2 would kill over Thanksgiving in its limited release: The first one back at Thanksgiving 2019 was a crowd-pleaser, ranking second with $41.4M in its 5-day, and legged out to $165.3M stateside.
The faltering of Disney Animation’s $135M production Strange World with a paltry $28M global start, and the bright spot of Netflix’s experiment with Knives Out 2 (playing the top three circuits –AMC, Regal, and Cinemark– a first for the streamer) over the holiday has prompted questions about what’s ripe for streaming and what’s right for theatrical.
The answer is both are ripe for theatrical, and Netflix is leaving massive monies on the table in ancillaries and the biggest window ever with their one week play of the Rian Johnson-directed, Ram Bergman-produced sequel, which they picked up as a two-pic package for $400M+ as Deadline first reported.
As Wall Street dotes on streamer studios to show them the money, specifically profit and not the subs, how does a conglom even rationalize or amortize those tentpole costs? Already, majors like Warner Bros and Disney are changing their tune in regards to the types of direct-to-streaming titles they send to the service; the former’s CEO David Zaslav is publicly against such expensive business practices. Netflix could have gone wide and more exhibitors could have been able to share in the riches of Glass Onion.
Disney is milking all it can from the dud that is Strange World. Both movies will hit their respective studio streaming services at Christmas. However, Glass Onion will go dark, out of theaters, until Dec. 23, when it debuts on Netflix.
How did Glass Onion come to be with the top three circuits on board? I hear that Netflix offered great terms, one chain telling me that they were only charged in the 40% rental range (vs. 60%-70% by a major studio) with the streamer kicking in 4x the amount of money toward exhibitors’ marketing for the sequel than a regular studio does on an average title. A done deal. Cinemark was the only big 3 chain that had previously played Netflix movies, beginning in the pandemic of 2020, and was about to change that booking plan until Knives Out 2 came along, I understand. This is the first that Netflix has put some umpf in a theatrical title’s marketing launch, the streamer known to spend millions over an awards contender’s long play throughout Oscar season.
While TV ad spend analytics corp iSpot showed that Netflix spent less than the majors to open Glass Onion with $4.3M in TV spots to Disney’s $16M on Strange World, Sony’s $14.8M on Devotion, Searchlight’s $10.8M on The Menu and Uni’s $8.5M on The Fabelmans; the streamer carefully curated their spots in a holistic campaign (which will run through its streaming drop date) with ads on Sunday NFL, Yellowstone, SNL and The Walking Dead finale. At a local AMC north of LA in Porter Ranch, there were hardly any standees in the lobby during the opening weekend of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever for other titles — except for Glass Onion.
Some small exhibitors couldn’t get Knives Out 2, with the streamer booking the best of the best in cinemas. Top theaters, I’m told, for Glass Onion were AMC Lincoln Square NYC, Cineplex Odeon Varsity in Toronto, AMC Burbank, AMC Century City, AMC Boston Common, Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn, AMC Grove LA, AMC Disney Springs 24 in Buena Vista, Fl, AMC Empire 25 NYC, and AMC Dine-In Thoroughbred in Franklin, TN.
No PostTrak exits on Knives Out 2 because it’s under 800 runs. However, on Rotten Tomatoes, moviegoers embraced the sequel at 93%. The first movie received an A-. Rival distributors remain irate this morning that Netflix didn’t publicly report or share their grosses. Netflix didn’t provide comment for this article.
After a great platform launch here like Glass Onion, normally a major studio would increase its theatrical footprint and go wider. However, Netflix has said that they will firmly pull Knives Out 2 after Tuesday before the pic heads to the service. Theaters are welcome to re-book the title after it arrives on Netflix in December.
But then again, we’re in a topsy-turvy, post-pandemic world. So, don’t be surprised if anything changes.
Will Netflix change their tune and embrace theatrical for their big tentpoles?
We’ll see. But Glass Onion was a great start for everyone.