Knives Out Budget

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KNIVES OUT simply slays - a modern 'whodunit' pulsing with Hitchcockian thrills in this stylish staging of murder most foul. Reflecting the strata of society in a mirror crack'd, Rian Johnson's dialogue and direction are so sharp that the film's incisive cultural commentary cuts deep without leaving a mark. The Lightning OTF knife is a very cool knife that sells for a very attractive price. Everyone should have at least one of these in their cutlery. The first Knives Out movie was released in November 2019, and it has grossed more than $311 million worldwide on an initial budget of $40 million, which is the exact opposite of Cats. When a movie cranks out that much surprise moolah for the people at the top, a sequel follows, of course.

We don’t typically write about Hollywood paydays at /Film unless they’re especially huge, but a new report brings word of three new instances which absolutely fit that description. Writer/director Rian Johnson, producer Ram Bergman, and star Daniel Craig are all poised to make $100 million each thanks to the surprising Knives Out sequels deal that Netflix made last week. The deal itself was worth $469 million, but the fact that these three players will receive $100 million each puts them in rarified air in Hollywood history. That’s Robert-Downey-Jr-Avengers-level money.

According to a new piece in THR, “The pact gave Johnson immense creative control, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. He doesn’t have to take notes from the streamer. The only contingencies were that Craig must star in the sequels and that each must have at least the budget of the 2019 movie, which was in the $40 million range. Sources say that Johnson, Bergman and Craig stand to walk away with upwards of $100 million each.”

Again, that is a lot of money. Downey is the only person I can think of who’s in in the same stratosphere. For Avengers: Endgame, he’s rumored to have made around $75 million when you factor in his lucrative back-end profit participation deal.

If you’ll allow me to concern-troll for a moment: when you make that much money, you run the risk of becoming disconnected with reality to a degree and either being unwilling, unable, or uninterested in taking notes and advice from anyone when it comes to creative decision-making on future projects. That may sound great on paper, but it’s also probably how things like Dolittle end up happening. There is something to be said for the idea of compromises and restrictions being essential to creating the most interesting version of a film. But Johnson knows this, and he’s one of the most humble and hardworking people in the industry. I fully trust his creative instincts and have no doubt that these sequels will end up being great.

The THR piece mentions that in January, “with the pandemic in full swing,” Johnson and Bergman (who own the rights to Knives Out) “questioned the near-term viability of theatrical releasing” and decided to go out to streamers for the sequels, and a bidding war erupted, with Netflix coming out victorious. There may be some grumbling about this deal being a big blow to theatrical moviegoing, but considering the circumstances around which this decision was made (remember, it was long before the vaccine rollout was as effective as it has since become), it’s tough to blame Johnson and Bergman for doing what they had to do in order to guarantee that these sequels could get made.

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KnivesBy Adam Epstein

Entertainment reporter

James Bond is one of the most lucrative roles an actor can hope for. That is, until he makes a deal with Netflix.

The streaming giant is paying $469 million to release two sequels to the 2019 mystery film Knives Out, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film’s director, Rian Johnson, and his producing partner, Ram Bergman, will reportedly each net “upwards of $100 million.” Daniel Craig, who starred as eccentric detective Benoit Blanc in the film, will also make $100 million to appear in the sequels.

On a per-film basis, that’s double what Craig made in salary to play James Bond in No Time to Die, the oft-delayed 007 movie due out in theaters in October. Craig has said that will be his final time playing Bond. And why not? He appears to have found an even more opulent home in the streaming space.

Knives Out Movie Budget

Craig’s Netflix payday is believed to be one of the richest single deals for an actor ever. Robert Downey Jr. famously made as much as $75 million to appear as Iron Man in Avengers: Infinity War, between his salary and backend pay, which is a percentage of a film’s box-office take. Unless Netflix releases the Knives Out sequels in theaters, Craig won’t get any backend, but he won’t need it. Netflix was more than happy—and perhaps the only platform able—to pay the vast sum in order to secure his services.

A deal only Netflix can make

Netflix outbid Amazon and Apple for the Knives Out deal, Deadline reported, and it’s unlikely any traditional film studios were seriously in the running. Netflix generated $4.6 billion in profits on $25 billion in revenue in 2020, according to company filings. Lionsgate, the studio that distributed the first Knives Out, broke even on about six times less revenue last year (pdf).

Knives Out Budget Breakdown

A “mid-major” studio like Lionsgate cannot possibly hope to compete with the spending power of Netflix. And with the theater industry in flux, Johnson and Bergman, who own the rights to the franchise, opted to go with the streaming service (and its deep pockets) instead of remaining at Lionsgate or another traditional movie studio—even though those studios would likely commit to a larger theatrical release.

Office

Knives Out 2019 Movie Budget

Knives Out was a surprise hit in 2019, earning $311 million at the global box office on its modest $40 million budget. It’s the kind of mid-budget, original film that Hollywood doesn’t often make these days. But perhaps Netflix will fill that role in the future, as studios like Disney focus on massive blockbuster franchises.

Of course, Netflix is also on the hunt for franchises to set itself apart from the competition. If you can’t make James Bond, why not just buy out the guy who plays him?