With ‘Knife Out’ Deal, Netflix Signals It’s in the Franchise Business

“The epidemic has really hit the streamers head-on with dramatic distribution,” said James Moore, chief executive officer of Vine Alternative Investments, an asset manager focused on the entertainment industry. “Now you see that economics is really moving rapidly towards streamers, and they have both the prerequisites and the strategic requirements to sustain their profits.”

“Knife Out”, with an ensemble cast led by Daniel Craig and Chris Evans, earned nearly $ 311 million in half in international markets – the biggest growth opportunity for streaming services. It was one of the few box office winners over the years not based on a comic book or existing intellectual property tied into a lengthy studio deal.

(John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place”, from 2018, is another example. But that R-rated horror film was owned by Paramount, and was such a boon at the box office that its sequel was one of those few films Thei at which the studio was held. During the pandemic. It is scheduled to come to theaters on Memorial Day weekend.)

For the original “Knife Out” at Creative Artist Agency, Mr. Johnson’s representatives negotiated a one-film licensing agreement with the film’s distributors, MRC and Lionsgate. That deal gave Mr. Johnson and his producing partner, Ram Bergman, control of the franchise and other parties the right to buy future iterations. (Mr. Craig, who played hardcore Southern detective Benoit Blanc in the film, is an equity partner in the deal.)

The film is part of a tried-and-true genre – the star-studded whodunit – that has been remade in recent years. “Murder Mystery”, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, was a hit for Netflix in 2019. Kenneth Branagh’s relaunch in Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” in 2017 led to a $ 352 million turnover in Disney’s Fox division, including $ 250 million. From the international market. (A follow-up, “Death on the Nile”, has been pushed to 2022, partly because one of its stars, Army Hammer, has recently been tarnished by a sex scandal.)

The “Knife Out” deal also underscores how much easier it is for a streaming service to use an already known title than to create one themselves. While Netflix scored big with the 2018 Sandra Bullock film “Bird Box” – stating that 89 million households had tuned in to watch the film within four weeks of its release – it’s set for a sequel right now, a Spanish one Is the language. The original star will not feature.

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