Streaming powerhouse Netflix might give Knives Out 2 a theatrical release before releasing the film to streaming. The sequel is directed by Rian Johnson, who also directed 2019’s highly-successful Knives Out alongside Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017. Daniel Craig will revive his role as Benoit Blanc in Knives Out 2, as Ethan Hawke, Janelle Monáe, Leslie Odom Jr., and Kate Hudson join the cast.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on movie theaters over the past two years. During the beginning of the pandemic, theaters closed worldwide, and at-home viewers turned to streaming for the release of new titles. While some films still saw theatrical release by late 2020 and early 2021, blockbuster and Oscar-contending titles were released concurrently on streaming and in theaters. In some cases, these films were given a limited pre-streaming theatrical release or exclusively on streaming with a delayed release as theaters gradually opened their doors. While theaters are progressively returning to something mirroring business-as-usual, theaters across the United States and abroad still face lower ticket sales than pre-COVID numbers.
According to Bloomberg, in assessing these trends, Netflix may release the much-anticipated Knives Out 2 in theaters before streaming. This discussion follows Netflix’s recent subscriber loss. While platforms such as Disney+ have seen immense subscriber growth rates over the past year, Netflix has seen slower growth trends. In response, senior executives at Netflix are talking about ways to reshape the company’s strategy, including introducing subscription tiers with an .-supported tier option to attract new customers. The platform is now in talks with major theater chains such as AMC in hopes of striking a deal with them for a 45-day theatrical release before Knives Out 2, among other titles, hit streaming. Major theaters have historically rejected this window, wanting a two-month title run instead.
But as theaters still face these post-pandemic struggles, they might go for the deal this time. Theaters are desperate to increase their ticket sales, as is Netflix vying for subscriber growth. The move to release Knives Out 2 in theaters first can benefit both parties, as Netflix gains money from distribution deals and the theaters gain potential ticket revenue from the highly-anticipated sequel. The original Knives Out met success from critics, fans, and the box office, grossing over $300M worldwide. Knives Out 2 might do just the same with another superstar cast on the docket.
Netflix’s deliberation regarding Knives Out 2’s release is not unique. Other platforms have undergone significant restructuring in recent years, including Disney+’s decision to release Luca directly to streaming last June rather than give it an exclusive theatrical run first. COVID-19 has forced the entire industry to strike deals, make changes, and majorly restructure the way their systems once operated. As the film and media industry continues to reshape over the coming years, viewers should expect more of these significant shifts in how and where they watch movies. Knives Out 2 is in post-production and expected to release later this year.
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