Rian Johnson ‘Stands to Walk Away’ with $100 Million or More from Netflix ‘Knives Out’ Deal

The filmmaker and his "Knives Out" star Daniel Craig and producer Ram Bergman could all land $100 million paydays.
Rian Johnson on the set of "Knives Out"
Rian Johnson on the set of "Knives Out"
Claire Folger / © Lionsgate / courtesy Everett Collection

Netflix shocked the film world last week when the streaming giant announced it was purchasing the rights to two “Knives Out” sequels from writer-director Rian Johnson in a deal worth a reported $400 million. Now some specifics of the deal are coming into focus in a new story published by The Hollywood Reporter. According to THR, Netflix “inked a dagger-driving $469 million deal” to land Johnson and Ram Bergman, his producing partner at T-Street, for “Knives Out 2” and “Knives Out 3.”

THR reports the deal gives Johnson full creative control of the “Knives Out” franchise, adding, “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.”

IndieWire has reached out to Netflix for further comment.

Lionsgate was the distributor of the original “Knives Out,” a critical and commercial smash hit with $311 million at the global box office and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said in February 2020 that the studio was moving forward with a sequel, which is something Johnson had been touting ever since the “Knives Out” world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019.

“I’ve never really been interested in doing sequels, but this, the idea of doing more of these with Daniel as his character, is not sequels,” Johnson said at the time. “It’s just what Agatha Christie did. It’s just coming up with a whole new mystery, a whole new location, all new cast, whole new mechanics of the appeal of a mystery and everything. It’d be a blast.”

Craig is confirmed for the two “Knives Out” sequels. As advertised by Johnson, none of the cast members who played members of the Thrombey family in the original “Knives Out” are returning for the sequel. This cast included Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, and Jaeden Martell. It remains to be seen whether or not non-Thrombey characters played by Ana de Armas and Lakeith Stanfield will be back.

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