Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos explained why arguably its biggest movie of the year, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” will not get a wider theatrical release as some have clamored for, saying that ultimately they want their subscribers to watch Netflix movies on Netflix.
“There’s all kinds of debates all the time, back and forth, but there’s no question internally that we make our movies for our members, and we really want them to watch them on Netflix,” Sarandos said in Tuesday’s earnings interview.
Sarandos on Tuesday was asked about the unique theatrical strategy for the “Knives Out” sequel, which will open in a sneak preview for one week over the Thanksgiving holiday a month before it debuts on Netflix. While the film will play at AMC and Regal locations, a first for any Netflix movie, it will only play on 600 screens. That’s in line with some of Netflix’s other tentpole films like “The Gray Man” but below the Dwayne Johnson film “Red Notice” in terms of screen count.
Speculation and debate though has surrounded “Glass Onion” specifically, given that Rian Johnson’s film was a surprise box office smash back in 2017, the film played gangbusters to the crowd at its Toronto International Film Festival premiere and simply because of the enormous price tag Netflix paid to acquire both it and a third film in the franchise.
But Sarandos was clear that even this theatrical strategy is for Netflix another way to generate hype and word of mouth excitement once “Glass Onion” does hit Netflix.
“For all those folks who can’t get to a city or where a festival is, this one week release on 600 screens is a way of creating access to the film and building buzz, the same thing we’re doing in those festivals. I would look at this as another way to build anticipation for the film and build buzz and build reputation for the film ahead of its Netflix release,” Sarandos said. “Of course with one week of release in theaters, most people will see them on Netflix. Just like they see all movies. Most people watch most movies at home. And I think this particular release sits somewhere between that week we have to run movies to qualify for awards and the time we run them in a film festival and the time we travel them around, but it’s a way of condensing that into a louder event.”
“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” hits theaters for one week beginning on Nov. 23 and will then debut on Netflix on Dec. 23.