There’s probably a good reason why Netflix decided it wouldn’t give Knives Out: A Glass Onion Mystery a nice, long, profitable run in movie theaters. (Unless there isn’t.) Instead, it got an under-advertised one-week engagement in only about 700 theaters. Even that proved successful, with the sequel opening in third place with the highest per-screen-average by far. It’s almost as though people genuinely want to see it, in theaters, in a crowd of strangers delighting to its many twists and turns. Well, Netflix has noted the enthusiasm and they’re springing into action: They’re considering maybe re-releasing it in theaters, after it’s dropped on streaming, which won’t happen for another month.
A new report by Variety on the film’s curious release strategy, which saw theater owners — recognizing, rightly, that Hollywood didn’t make enough product for what has traditionally been one of the biggest moviegoing weekends — begging Netflix to give the film a proper release. They met them less than halfway, agreeing to a comparatively smaller release for only seven days. The result: a $15 million haul, which could have been much, much larger. One expert speculates that with “a strong marketing campaign and a big, wide release, the sequel would have opened in the low $30 million domestically and made $300 million worldwide.”
What’s the end game here? As the report notes, Netflix is “in the business of growing its subscriber base, not selling movie tickets.” They also insist that people would rather watch movies at home. Instead, they see the brief theatrical releases they’ve granted to a number of their films — including three of this season’s big offerings, Blonde, Bardo, and White Noise — more as advertisements for their ultimate destination on Netflix.
Or, considering they were bleeding out subscribers earlier this year, maybe they’re hoping the word-of-mouth for Glass Onion will get people to re-subscribe lest they be left out.
But for now, if you didn’t catch the acclaimed Glass Onion in theaters over the last week, you’re gonna have to wait. Then again, if you want to see it in a crowd, the old-fashioned way, that might be an option.