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Despite Netflix Bringing ‘Knives Out’ Sequel to Cinemas, Don’t Expect Theatrical Releases to Become the Norm

David Satin

If you want to see the Rian Johnson-helmed sequel to the hit mystery film “Knives Out” on its release date, you’ll have to head to your local theater. Despite being a Netflix Original, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” will get a weeklong theatrical release from Nov. 23 through 29. Then, following a blackout period, it will be available to stream on Netflix beginning on Dec. 23.

Still, if Netflix co-CEO and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos has anything to say about it, the theatrical release of “Glass Onion” is unlikely to become a trend for the company. As part of the streamer’s third-quarter earnings call, Sarandos said that the weeklong theatrical window was more for the sake of garnering more critical consideration for the film, especially in the context of film festivals and awards shows.

“[The theatrical release] sits somewhere between that week we have to run movies to qualify for awards, and for the time we run them in a film festival — the time we travel them around,” he said. It’s a way of condensing them into a louder event.”

But Sarandos went even further, saying, “We are in the business of entertaining our members with Netflix movies on Netflix … There are all kinds of debates all the time, back and forth. But there is no question internally that we make our movies for our members, and we really want them to watch them on Netflix. And, 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.”

Check Out a Trailer For “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”

The idea of giving Netflix movies longer theatrical windows must be tempting to some company executives. Netflix has, of course, put its movies into theaters before, but mostly in efforts to qualify for awards consideration or raise their Oscar profile like with 2018’s “Roma” or last year’s “The Power of the Dog.”

But the company does have at least a few executives more open to theatrical releases, including head of original films Scott Stuber who pushed for a 45-day theatrical window for 2019’s “The Irishman,” according to Indiewire.

However, for now, it appears that the streaming giant will forgo the added potential revenue and marketing benefits of theatrical releases in order to cater to its traditional clientele. However, between launching an ad-supported tier and taking steps to curb password-sharing, the streamer has shown a willingness to reverse course on institutional philosophies before.

However, for the time being, it is unlikely that Netflix will go the way of Warner Bros. Discovery and start slashing streaming content and forcing movies into theaters for as long as possible. Netflix added 2.4 million subscribers in the third quarter of 2022, bringing its total to over 223 million, the largest streaming customer base in the world. That kind of customer pool gives Netflix the power to try a lot of big, risky ventures, but — at least for now — don’t expect those ventures to include a robust theatrical slate of movies any time soon.

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Netflix spends more money on content than any other streaming service meaning that you get more value for the monthly fee.

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