The brightest star in the movies over the Thanksgiving holiday was the performance of Netflix’s GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY, which grossed an estimated $15M in a one-week “sneak peek” run at just under 700 locations. This placed the KNIVES OUT sequel in the second spot, only trailing Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER in ticket sales, even though it played at roughly 1/5th the number of screens.
GLASS ONION had a per-screen average of over $13,000, the leader by far of all movies playing during Thanksgiving week. Had Netflix chosen to give GLASS ONION a standard, wide release in theatres, it would have propelled the box office from Thanksgiving and early December to significantly higher levels, making up for the underperformance of DEVOTION and, especially, STRANGE WORLD.
In an interview with New York Times columnist Kyle Buchannan, GLASS ONION’s director Rain Johnson explained that he had encouraged Netflix to give his film the widest possible theatrical release. Still, he was encouraged by the “unprecedented” results it achieved in its one-week run, especially since it was the first Netflix movie to play at theatres from the country’s three largest exhibitors, AMC, Regal, and Cinemark.
He also indicated that the third KNIVES OUT movie that is in the works would have a larger theatrical run when it releases. “I hope everyone knows I’m working as hard as I can to push, push, push for theatrical releases,” because he believes that success in theatres increases a film’s visibility and, therefore, its audience on streaming. Even with this push from the filmmaker, it’s unclear whether Netflix will follow his advice, given the much-publicized stance from co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings that Netflix is not very interested in building a theatrical business.