NEW YORK — For the first time, the major U.S. theater chains will play a Netflix release after exhibitors and the streaming service reached a deal for a nationwide sneak-peak run of Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.”
Netflix announced Thursday that AMC, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark will all carry the “Knives Out” sequel for an exclusive one-week run beginning Nov. 23, one month before it begins streaming on Dec. 23.
Up until now, those chains have largely refused to program Netflix releases. But as theatrical windows have shortened from three months to frequently closer to 45 days, and streaming-only releases have sometimes lacked the buzz generated by moviegoing, Netflix and the chains finally found common ground.
The deal stops short of a full theatrical release window for “Glass Onion,” which premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival and stars Daniel Craig as detective Benoit Blanc. A wide release typically plays in more than 3,000 theaters in North America, but Johnson’s film will play in about 600 domestic theaters in addition to an international rollout.
“Given the excitement surrounding the premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, we hope fans will enjoy this special theatrical event in celebration of the film’s global debut on Netflix in December,” said Scott Stuber, head of global film at Netflix.
For months, negotiations between exhibitors and Netflix had centered around “Glass Onion” because of its box-office pedigree: “Knives Out” was one of the biggest original hits of 2019, grossing more than $311 million worldwide in ticket sales for Lionsgate. After a bidding war, Netflix acquired two sequels for $450 million. Johnson, too, had voiced interest in it playing widely theatrically.
“This movie, above everything else, is designed to be a good time with a big crowd of folks in a theater,” the director said in an earlier interview with The Associated Press.
On Thursday, Johnson celebrated, saying in a statement that he was “over the moon that Netflix has worked with AMC, Regal and Cinemark to get Glass Onion in theaters for this one of a kind sneak preview.”
Adam Aron, chairman and chief executive of AMC, said the first-ever agreement “sufficiently respects the sanctity of our current theatrical window policy.” Aron said he hoped it will lead to more cooperation between Netflix and AMC, the largest theater chain.
“As we have often said, we believe that both theatrical exhibitors and streamers can continue to co-exist successfully,” said Aron in a statement. “Beyond that, though, it has been our desire that we find a way to crack the code and synergistically work together. By doing so, theaters will make more money by having more titles to show, and thanks to the larger cultural resonance those movies can gain from a theatrical release, they will wind up playing to a wider audience when they also are viewed on streaming platforms.”
“Glass Onion” revolves around tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton), who invites a small group of friends to his private island for a murder mystery party. The cast includes Janelle Monáe, Dave Bautista, Madelyn Cline, Kathryn Hahn, Kate Hudson, Jessica Henwick and Leslie Odom Jr.