“Knives Out,” the acclaimed whodunit from director Rian Johnson, hit a notable box office milestone this weekend, crossing $100 million in the U.S. and $200 million worldwide. It’s another triumph for original content — a form of entertainment once thought to be imperiled by the ubiquity of franchise fare.
“Knives Out” became the de facto choice for families without young kids over the holiday season. Lionsgate’s motion picture co-chairman Joe Drake said the film had a broader appeal than the studio initially expected. From Lionsgate, Media Rights Capital and T-Street, “Knives Out” cost $40 million.
“On paper, you could say that [‘Knives Out’] could live on a streaming service,” Drake told Variety. “But when you take the screenplay Rian Johnson wrote and the cast he put together, you deliver the kind of experience which is dramatic, thrilling, really funny and really suspenseful. It hits all those beats that make for the theatrical ride.”
To compete with superhero tentpoles and big-budget blockbusters, Drake says it takes a mix of “the science and the art of our business.”
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“We’re focusing on theatrical audiences, looking at genres and concepts for a combination of what we believe can create urgency to see on a Friday night,” he said. “There’s data and art to making creative decisions.”
Over the Christmas frame, “Knives Out” generated another $16 million at the domestic box office, pushing its North American tally to $110 million. Since opening on Thanksgiving, the film has made $214.6 million at the global box office. China propelled international receipts ($27.9 million), followed by the United Kingdom ($13.7 million), Australia ($7.4 million), France ($6.2 million) and Russia ($5.1 million). “Knives Out” opens in its final markets, Germany and Japan, in January.
“Knives Out” boasts a star-studded cast including Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Toni Collette and Ana de Armas. The crowd-pleasing murder mystery is a different kind of family film, centering on a gathering that goes wrong after renowned author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dies on the evening of his 85th birthday.
“We really believe in the audience,” Drake said. “For ‘Knives Out,’ it really captured the imagination of the audience. They have been selective, but they clearly have a big appetite.”