Netflix unsheathed the awesome power of its checkbook Wednesday, spending an astronomical $450 million for the rights to Knives Out 2 and 3 — the follow-up installments to writer-director Rian Johnson’s hit 2019 whodunit. According to Variety, Johnson will return to the director’s chair and Daniel Craig will reprise his role as tweed-clad private eye Benoit Blanc a.k.a. “The Last of the Gentleman Sleuths.”
The first Knives Out — an ensemble mystery chockablock with red herrings and chunky-knit sweaters co-starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, and Ana de Armas — grossed $311.4 million (on a $40 million budget) to become a surprise smash for the murder-mystery genre. That tally helped boost operating income and revenues for the film’s distributor, Lionsgate, to surpass all Wall Street projections for the studio’s 2019 fiscal third quarter, in the process anointing Knives Out as fresh bankable IP.
The sequels’ $450 million price tag eclipses Netflix’s biggest movie-acquisition expenditures to date — $90 million for the 2017 Will Smith sci-fi action flick Bright, $115 million for the Ben Affleck heist caper Triple Frontier, and $130 million for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman — by a wide margin. Perhaps more importantly, it gives the streaming behemoth a popular homegrown franchise as challengers such as Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+ and Apple TV continue to crowd the Roku.
But while the next Knives Out is expected to be plotted around the continuing adventures of Craig’s cigar-chomping southern detective, as Johnson told Vulture in 2019, don’t expect the new film to Young Indiana Jones the character. “This’ll be just like what Agatha Christie did,” Johnson said. “It’s disconnected from Knives Out. It’s just another case.”