When Agatha Christie’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS was elegantly brought back to theaters in November 2017, it made a handsome $103M at the box office. Little did we know that two years later, KNIVES OUT would lift the genre to greater heights. Opening Thanksgiving weekend 2019, KNIVES grossed over $165M on the heels of a $27M opening for an incredible 6.2 multiple. It was the 15th highest grossing film of 2019 and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
In an unexpected twist worthy of Christie herself, the rights to a second and third film in the series were acquired by Netflix for a reported $450M. That’s a lot to spend on a pair of films that won’t have a significant theatrical component.
As months have rolled by, we’ve been given little morsels, crumbs, and clues about the follow-up. In June, we were told that the first sequel would be released with the curious title GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT STORY. That was one mystery solved.
But we didn’t know when the film would be released or how significant the theatrical component would be. Netflix made it clear that the film would get a 2022 release, but as we arrived in the back half of the summer, it seemed odd that there was still no official release date. The film was running out of time if a 2022 date was in the cards.
Today, we got a partial answer. We now know that ONION will debut on that Netflix platform on Friday, December 23rd. What we don’t know is when the film will arrive in theaters, though Netflix is stating that it will be a limited release. Why Netflix isn’t committing to a wide release is yet another mystery.
So, what do we think of this date? First, it’s worth noting that there are no major studio films scheduled for a theatrical release on that day. That’s because three big titles – SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS, I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY and PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH – will arrive in theaters two days earlier on Wednesday, December 21st.
And let’s not forget that a week earlier, on Friday, December 16th, a little film called AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER will arrive in theaters. In other words, ONION will be competing for eyeballs against a handful of big theatrical titles. Can it hold up against those films? Absolutely. The holiday season has proven year after year that it can accommodate numerous big releases.
Going to the theater during the holiday season is a decades-old tradition. Late December can support upwards of a dozen titles because people go to the theater numerous times between Christmas and New Years. How well a high-profile streaming film will hold up against the barrage of theatrical releases remains to be seen.
As for The Quorum data, ONION could use a lift. Awareness for the film has been on the low side, especially for a sequel to a well known movie. Even more curious is the fact that awareness slipped to 18% after hovering in the low 20s for several months.
Of course, there is plenty of time for awareness to grow, and with today’s release date announcement, it looks as though the campaign is ramping up. Stay tuned to see if these number go up.