Netflix execs will be crowing as their multimillion-dollar gamble on the Knives Out franchise looks to be paying off – but the director of the films isn’t completely happy.
The streaming giant made waves in 2021 when it plunked down $US450 million ($666 million) for the rights to two sequels to the 2019 flick, Knives Out.
Knives Out, produced and distributed for a cinema release by traditional studios, raked in $US271.4 million ($402 million) more than the film’s budget, and Netflix may well have been banking on lightning striking twice.
So far the decision has proven fruitful.
The sequel Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery has become Netflix’s No.1 film globally only three days after its December 23 release, racking up 35 million household views from more than 93 countries.
With the high viewer numbers and rave reviews by critics and audiences, director Rian Johnson should be on cloud nine.
But one particular decision is niggling away at his happiness; the film’s title.
‘A Knives Out Mystery‘ was slapped onto the sequel’s original title Glass Onion in a move that went against Johnson’s wishes.
Though the decision over the title was made to clearly connect the film to its predecessor, Johnson told The Atlantic he’d prefer to keep more distance between the films, as they see detective Benoit Blanc (played by Daniel Craig) investigate separate mysteries.
“I’ve tried hard to make [the films] self-contained,” he said.
“Honestly, I’m p—ed off that we have A Knives Out Mystery in the title. You know? I want it to just be called Glass Onion.
“I get it, and I want everyone who liked the first movie to know this is next in the series. But also, the whole appeal to me is it’s a new novel off the shelf every time. But there’s a gravity of a thousand suns toward serialised storytelling.”
Twitter explains how a ‘whodunit’ works
As reviews for Glass Onion roll in, US conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro took issue with the film’s storyline in a fired-up Twitter thread – which had Twitter roasting him.
(Warning: spoilers ahead)
In early tweets on Monday, Shapiro complained the first half of the film misdirected the audience.
“We only find out about the actual murder we’re supposed to investigate full one hour and ten minutes into the film, as well as an entirely new backstory … We’re actively deceived by the writer,” he tweeted.
“Why the misdirect?”
Although Shapiro said the misdirect was a crutch for the storyline’s “purest form of incredible laziness”, along with the use of tropes such as an identical twin, Twitter users were quick to point out these are hallmarks of the murder-mystery genre.
Twitter users also roasted Shapiro for taking aim at the film’s ‘eat the rich’ theme, which has had people pointing out parallels between the storyline and the real-life drama surrounding Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.
Johnson has emphasised the film was made before Musk’s controversy-plagued Twitter takeover but many, including Shapiro, took it as a direct attack on Musk.
“Rian Johnson’s politics is as lazy as his writing,” he tweeted.
“His take on the universe is that Elon Musk is a bad and stupid man, and that anyone who likes him – in media, politics, or tech – is being paid off by him.
“This is an incredibly stupid theory, since Musk is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in human history (how many rockets has Johnson launched lately?), and it’s a foolish conspiracy theory to boot.”
Shapiro wrapped up his rant by opining that Johnson’s massive Netflix payday for the Knives Out franchise makes him the rich man in the Glass Onion, not the detective.
But many on Twitter were more concerned with Shapiro’s take than with the film’s theme, and pointed out Netflix looks to be the biggest winner in the deal.
The title and storyline for the third Knives Out film has yet to be announced.
However, it will likely feature a whole new set of characters with Daniel Craig, who agreed to star in the two sequels for a reported $US100 million ($148 million).