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Netflix snatches Knives Out sequels, director, protagonist
The 2019 sleeper hit could become a proper mystery thriller franchise
It's no secret that Netflix is entering a new chapter in its history now that it isn't the only streaming game in town. The arrival of Disney Plus and its impressive showing so far would have changed the rules all by themselves anyway, but with HBO Max, Apple TV Plus, Paramount Plus, Peacock and others all striving for positioning as best they can, the streaming market is becoming more and more competitive each quarter.
What Netflix lacks most - compared to traditional Hollywood studios making the transition to subscription-based content providers - is not just library depth. It is franchise power: the kind of iconic movies that bring people back to watch new installments on a regular basis, from Star Wars and superhero adventures to James Bond, Jurassic Park or Fast and Furious flicks.
In that context it's no surprise that Netflix is prepared to pay top dollar for material fit for a long-term franchise... and that is exactly what it just did with Knives Out: it acquired the rights for at least two more sequels to the 2019 surprise hit for no less than $450 million. The deal will see Rian Johnson return as director and Daniel Craig reprise his role as detective Benoit Blanc. It's not clear whether the two films will see a theatrical release or function as Netflix exclusives, but either way works for Netflix just fine. Preparation for the first sequel is already underway.
Craig's role in Knives Out has a strong "Hercule Poirot meets Sherlock Holmes" vibe to it: the likable but sharp detective whose attention to every detail and skills of deduction lead to solving crimes that would otherwise remain mysteries. It's a persona that fits Craig's style and, more importantly, a persona that Netflix can build a franchise around: with Benoit Blanc at the center of each production, the Americans can create not just two, but many more whodunit films where Craig retains the leading role and everything else - scenario, setting, supporting actors etc. - changes accordingly.
Everyone knows how well-loved Agatha Christie's or Arthur Conan Doyle's books are and most people like a really good mystery thriller. If Netflix plays its cards right, it could have a proper power franchise in its hands. As an added bonus, productions like these do not have to cost insane amounts of money to be made - no heavy use of special effects, for instance - or be shot in exotic locations to be successful. They just have to offer a well-written story and a magnetic, strong protagonist keeping it all together. It seems that Netflix has found - and surely paid handsomely for - at least one half of that equation, now it just has to get the other half right.
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