The 'Knives Out' sequel 'Glass Onion' could have been a box-office hit — if Netflix had let it

The 'Knives Out' sequel 'Glass Onion' could have been a box-office hit — if Netflix had let it
Daniel Craig in "Glass Onion."Netflix
  • Analysts say Netflix's "Glass Onion" could have been a box-office hit with a bigger release.
  • The "Knives Out" sequel is playing in 600 theaters for one week only.

2019's "Knives Out" was a surprise box-office hit, and its sequel could have been one too — if Netflix gave it a robust theatrical release.

The first movie, distributed by Lionsgate, earned $27 million in its opening weekend in the US, and went on to make $165 million in the US and $312 million globally off of its estimated $40 million budget.

But "Glass Onion," the film's follow up, won't have a chance to make anywhere near that.

Last year, Netflix scooped up the rights to two "Knives Out" sequels for over $400 million, Deadline reported at the time. The streaming service released the first sequel, "Glass Onion," in 600 theaters over the weekend, and it will play for one-week only, before debuting on Netflix on December 23.

The rollout marks one of Netflix's bigger theatrical releases, and it's the first time one of its movies has been shown in all of the top three biggest cinema chains. But the streaming giant still probably "left money on the table," said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst for Box Office Pro.


Netflix doesn't release box-office figures for the few movies it does release to theaters, but multiple outlets, including The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, reported that it earned between $13 million and $15 million over the five-day holiday weekend.

Robbins told Insider that that's an accurate estimate based on his observations of pre-sale tickets and pre-release tracking.

That would have made "Glass Onion" the third-biggest movie over the weekend, behind "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" and Disney's new animated film "Strange World." But with a wider release in more theaters, it might have placed at No. 2 or even No. 1.

"It's a success and a big moment between streamers and exhibition," Robbins said. But "it could have made $40 million to $60 million over the weekend."

"I think this should make Netflix rethink how it approaches high-profile movies like this," he added.


The movie has been received well by both critics and general audiences, with a 93% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 92% user score.

"Traditionally, when an original property receives nearly universal acclaim, plus a box-office bounty in theaters, the sequel capitalizes on that wave of success," said Jeff Bock, a box-office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. "Instead of beating the studios at their own game, Netflix fumbled the release of their biggest poach."

Of course, Netflix's bread and butter is the streaming business. If the movie performs well on the service next month and drives new signups, it's hard to say whether the company will change its strategy for the third "Knives Out" movie.

During its latest earnings call in October, co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended Netflix's release strategy, downplaying the potential that it expands its theatrical output.

"We're in the business of entertaining our members with Netflix movies on Netflix," he said. "There's no question internally that we make movies for our members."