In a time when it’s increasingly rare for original, one-off films to bring in major money at the worldwide box office, Rian Johnson’s modern whodunnit “Knives Out” was an outlier when it won over critics and grossed $294.55 million worldwide on a $40 million budget. Now, it’s a franchise: Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said Thursday on the company’s Q3 earnings call that a follow-up to the film is in the works.
The performance of “Knives Out,” coupled with the company’s other Q3 releases, “Midway” and “Bombshell,” helped boost Lionsgate’s film revenue 30% in the quarter.
It’s rare for a studio to successfully launch a built-from-scratch franchise: Every single one of the 10 highest grossing movies last year comes from long-established IP like comic books, remakes of Disney classics, and Star Wars. The relative newcomers were “Hobbs & Shaw,” the latest in the two-decades-old “Fast & Furious” franchise, and “Frozen 2,” the follow-up to Disney’s 2013 animated smash hit.
But “Knives Out” offers promise of another mid-budget franchise; Lionsgate’s most successful properties include Keanu Reeves’ “John Wick” series, which saw its third installment gross $326.7 million last year. A fourth film is in the works.
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Once it’s released for streaming (Lionsgate has an output deal with Hulu), “Knives Out” could also see a successful second life that would continue to build its popularity and build anticipation for a sequel.
The film, which earned Johnson an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, stars an ensemble led by Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Michael Shannon.
What if a Southern accent is the only way Daniel Craig can feel alive anymore
— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) November 21, 2019
Johnson previously said that he would like to create sequels featuring Craig’s character, Southern private eye Benoit Blanc. Craig employs a similar drawl he used in Steven Soderbergh’s “Logan Lucky.”
It’s worth noting that Johnson, however, is not keen on the term “sequel.” In an interview with UPROXX, the director likened a “Knives Out” followup to Agatha Christie mystery novels, which offer a new story, location, and characters.