Pulling a hit movie from theaters to send it to Netflix: A 'Glass Onion' mystery
Wanna watch the 'Knives Out' sequel? Tough luck. PLUS: Trailers for 'Mario' and 'Cocaine Bear,' the Oscars right a wrong, and the word 'Andor' wasn't allowed to say.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery has a 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It debuted at No. 3 at the domestic box office last weekend. It’s the sequel to the acclaimed Knives Out from director Rian Johnson.
And you can’t watch it right now.
Yup, no matter how much you want to see Glass Onion, no matter how strong word of mouth around the film is, it’s currently in a purgatory between a brief theatrical release over Thanksgiving week and its eventually availability on Netflix.
When Knives Out was released in 2019, audiences and critics raved over the film. It grossed $165.4 million domestically and $312.9 million worldwide on a $40 million budget. Johnson scored an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Daniel Craig found himself with a new franchise role, while Ana de Armas was nudged ever closer to stardom. People wanted another film in this universe. (Fun fact: Knives Out was the last film I saw in theaters during the pre-pandemic era.)
Then Netflix came along. The streamer dropped a reported $469 million for the rights to two Knives Out sequels. (Johnson, Ram Bergman and Craig each supposedly getting $100 million of that sum.) Lionsgate and MRC, the distributor and production company behind the original film were out.
On one hand, seeing Johnson rewarded for his work with a dump truck full of Netflix money was great. He definitely deserves it, being the creative mind behind Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the Breaking Bad episode “Ozymandias.”
But Netflix is a streaming service. Yes, they put some of their film in theaters, but only to meet the requirements to have those films considered for awards like the Oscars. A lot of these films get a burst of publicity at the beginning only to then settle into the sea of made-for-streaming movies you can browse through. (How many stories did we read about how Dwayne Johnson’s Netflix movie or the Russo brothers’ Netflix movie was either the most expensive in history or was the most watched of all time?)
Netflix isn’t interested in the experience of seeing a film in theaters, with an audience. They’re barely interested in reporting box office numbers. (I haven’t seen anything for the first few days of this week, the final part of Glass Onion’s theatrical run.) All we know is that Glass Onion grossed $13.1 million through this past weekend.
“[A theatrical release is] a promotional tactic like film festivals, and if it works well we will do more of it,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said during the New York Times Dealbook Summit on Wednesday (via The Hollywood Reporter). Hastings also acknowledged that Netflix left “lots” of money on the table with Glass Onion. (He also called Elon Musk “the bravest, most creative person on the planet,” which makes me question everything Hastings has ever said.)
Even if this is all going according to Hastings and Netflix’s plans, now Glass Onion is stuck in limbo. Netflix can’t capitalize on the positive buzz surrounding the film since people can’t currently buy tickets to see it in theaters and the film doesn’t hit the streaming service until Dec. 23, almost a month after it left theaters.
Desperate for a hit, the theater chains played along with Netflix’s game when it came to Glass Onion but did what they could to maximize its tiny release window. From Variety:
Though pared down, the initial rollout for Glass Onion was notable because it is the first Netflix movie to play in the country’s two biggest chains — AMC Theaters and Regal Cinemas. … Theater operators, anticipating the Knives Out sequel would be today’s rare, all-audience popcorn movie, allotted more screens than usual — nearly doubling the number of auditoriums that were showing the film — to get every penny they could.
It seems like Netflix may be having second thoughts about how it handled the sequel’s release. Variety reports that the streamer is “considering re-releasing Glass Onion in theaters after it debuts on its streaming service.”
Folks, they Morbius’d Glass Onion. (Kidding. Netflix had a surefire hit on their hands, and they bumbled its theatrical release. Morbius was a dud from square one.)
Now I guess we wait to see what Netflix does with Glass Onion. Do they bring it back to theaters before its Dec. 23 debut? Do they wait until we’re closer to Oscar season for a second theatrical release? Does this change how the third Knives Out movie is released? (I’m sure Johnson can’t be happy that Glass Onion finds itself in this situation.)
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Bob Iger: ‘Pure speculation’ that Apple will buy Disney
In the aftermath of Bob Iger’s shocking return as Disney’s CEO, the rumor that he might cap off his second run by selling the company to Apple (and thus becoming the final Disney CEO) began to circulate.
Iger called that idea “pure speculation” during a town hall with Disney employees on Monday, ruling out the possibility that Disney make any serious acquisitions either.
The new Disney CEO also used the town hall to address the hiring freeze Bob Chapek, his successor/predecessor, put in place (it’s staying while Iger looks at the company’s cost structure) and how the company handle’s Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill (“I think there’s a misperception here about what politics is. Some of the subjects that have been proven to be controversial as it relates to Disney have been branded political, and I don’t think they are.”)
Every Oscar winner will be announced live in 2023
Jimmy Kimmel isn’t the only thing the Academy is bringing back for the next Oscars ceremony. The Academy revealed on Tuesday that all 23 winners will once again be announced live.
The Academy has spent the decade-plus since snubbing The Dark Knight desperately attempting to make the Oscars hipper and cooler — and quicker. They’ve floated awards for Most Popular Film and even included “awards” that were hijacked by bot communities last year. (You all remember entering the speed force, right?)
For the most recent ceremony, the Academy shifted the presentations for original score, makeup and hairstyling, documentary short, film editing, production design, animated short, live action short and sound to the commercial breaks.
I’d say it was a slap in the face to these categories, but, eh … well, you know …
“I can confirm that all categories will be included in the live telecast,” Bill Kramer, CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, told Variety.
Step in the right direction, I guess.
James Cameron: Maybe Avatar 4 and 5 won’t happen, maybe there’ll be Avatar 6 and 7
Some wild swings in the outlook for the future of the Avatar franchise from James Cameron in a recent The Hollywood Reporter story.
“We’ll probably finish movie three regardless because it’s all shot,” Cameron told THR, addressing the possibility that Avatar: The Way of Water doesn’t perform well enough to justify additional films. “We’d have to really crater for it not to seem like it was worth the additional investment. We’d have to leave a smoking hole in the ground. Now, hopefully, we get to tell the whole thing because five’s better than four, four’s better than three, and three’s better than two.”
According to Cameron, Disney has already spent more than $100 million on Avatar 3. Not sure if Iger wants to pull a Warner Bros. Discovery and start dumping movies that have already cost the studio that much. (Cameron shouldn’t worry, though, since The Way of Water is already tracking to be a box office hit.)
If the next four Avatar films perform well enough, Cameron revealed that he has plans for two more sequels — but he might not be the one directing them.
“Obviously, I’m not going to be able to make Avatar movies indefinitely, the amount of energy required,” Cameron told THR. “I would have to train somebody how to do this because, I don’t care how smart you are as a director, you don’t know how to do this.”
Ted Lasso’s Brett Goldstein talks the Muppets and joining the MCU
Ted Lasso star Brett Goldstein saw one of his dreams come true earlier this year when he shot a scene for Sesame Street, finally getting to work with the Muppets. (Well, not the Muppets, but the Muppets that live on Sesame Street. They’re not the same. It’s a whole thing.)
“It was the best fucking day of my life. I’m not even joking,” Goldstein told Fast Company. “You see the people holding their arms up this thing, but the second you make eye contact with the puppet, it changes you. You’re talking genuinely, with your heart, to a piece of cloth. I don’t know quite how it works on the brain, but that’s impossible with CGI. [With CGI,] you can tell something is missing, and what’s missing is magic. Muppets are actual magic.”
One of my life goals are to meet a Muppet in real life. Preferably Grover. I’ll take Cookie Monster. I tried to run onstage during a Sesame Street Live! show when I was little for a reason.
Goldstein also addressed his credits cameo as Hercules in Thor: Love and Thunder. Turns out he doesn’t know what the future holds for the character in the MCU.
“That scene could be it,” Goldstein said. “If they want to do one, they need to tell me.”
I trust him. I mean, who has ever lied about their role in an MCU movie?
James Gunn: ‘DCU will be connected across film and TV’
As Warner Bros. Discovery tries to apply the MCU model to its universe of superhero movies and TV shows, people have been asking what that might mean for the distinctly separate state of those projects at the moment. Will Todd Phillips’ Joker films connect to the DCU proper? What about Matt Reeves’ Batman films starring Robert Pattinson? The awesome Harley Quinn animated series?
James Gunn, now one half of the duo running DC Studios, attempted to answer this question on Twitter.
Ah, so everything is going to connect somehow. Just checking again — will any film or TV show stand on its own?
Oh. Huh. Glad we cleared this up.
Look, this is exactly how it should be. Everything in the DCU doesn’t need to connect. If it makes sense, then go for it. But don’t cram the Joker films into the DCU proper. Let Reeves tell the stories he wanted to tell with his Batman films. And, for the love of god, don’t do anything to hurt Harley Quinn.
Gunn also answered the question of whether he would still write and direct projects for DC Studios.
So that Man of Steel sequel, huh?
Legendary ditches Warner Bros. for Sony
Legendary Pictures has found a new distribution partner, ditching Warner Bros. for Sony Pictures.
Legendary and Warner Bros. have worked together dating back to Batman Begins’ release in 2005. (Legendary also had a long history with Christopher Nolan, working with him on the Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception and Interstellar.)
The relationship between Legendary and Warner Bros. soured during the pandemic when Warner Bros. chose to release its 2021 film slate on HBO Max (a move new Warner Bros. Discover CEO David Zaslav was not a fan of), in some cases not running the move by its partners.
“Sony’s commitment to theatrical distribution aligns with our vision of how to best derive the most value for Legendary’s movies,” Legendary CEO Joshua Grode said. “The incredible slate of movies that [film producer] Mary Parent has amassed are built for the theatrical experience and we are excited about our partnership with Sony for this next phase of Legendary’s growth.”
Variety reports that some of Legendary’s upcoming films won’t shift to Sony, with Dune: Part Two being the biggest title to stick with Warner Bros. It’s unclear which studio will distribute the untitled Godzilla vs. Kong sequel.
Amazon signs Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry Presents Prime Video? The streamer announced this week that it had signed Tyler Perry to a four-movie deal.
“Tyler Perry is undeniably one of the most prolific creators of our time. He is a true multihyphenate who has defined his own incredible brand of storytelling and inspired people all over the world with his series and films,” Amazon Studios CEO Jennifer Salke said in a statement. “We are excited to collaborate with Tyler and his teams to bring even more of his fantastic signature films to our global audiences.”
Perry’s films will premiere on Prime Video.
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The Super Mario Bros. Movie
I still don’t get why Chris Pratt is voicing Mario in this movie. (Or why he’s voicing Garfield in that upcoming movie.) He’s the least inspired of all the voices we’ve heard so far — Jack Black as Bowser, Charlie Day as Luigi, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach.
Pratt’s voice aside, I’m really enjoying the look of The Super Mario Bros. Movie. I don’t have any allegiance to a particular era of Mario (most of my Mario gameplay happened while waiting for my mom to shop at Sears), so I’m not going to get defensive over any creative choices Illumination made when designing these characters.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie opens on April 7, 2023.
“The bear … fucking did cocaine.”
The 2024 Oscars race begins now. Cocaine Bear is inspired by the time a real bear did a ton of cocaine back in 1985. This movie looks insane.
Elizabeth Banks directs, with Keri Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Matthew Rhys, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, character actor Margo Martindale and Ray Liotta making up the cast. The bear is CGI. Don’t ask who plays the bear.
Cocaine Bear opens on Feb. 24, 2023.
Hollywood loves making films about Hollywood, with The Artist, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood being a couple recent entries in this genre to win acclaim. La La Land writer/director Damien Chazelle tries his hand at this category with Babylon.
Margot Robbie looks like she’s having a ton of fun in this one, and I definitely need to know what the deal is with Tobey Maguire’s character.
Babylon opens on Dec. 23, 2022.
That ‘90s Show
There’s a weird juxtaposition going on in this trailer for That ’90s Show. Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith are instantly recognizable as Kitty and Red Forman while the rest of the cast looks like generic Disney Channel characters. (My apologies to generic Disney Channel characters.)
That ’90s Show premieres on Jan. 19, 2023.
The Always Sunny Podcast
I don’t normally include The Always Sunny Podcast in the Playlist section, but this week’s episode focused on an iconic episode: “The Nightman Cometh.” With guests Cormac Bluestone and Lin-Manuel Miranda, The Always Sunny Podcast dove into just about every aspect of the fan-favorite episode.
I don’t know how Megan Ganz has the time to guide this podcast while being an executive producer on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and co-creating Mythic Quest.
We’re definitely getting an appearance or song from Miranda in a future Always Sunny episode now, aren’t we?
The 50 best original Christmas songs since ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ (Maura Johnston, Vulture)
Harry Potter: Why WB has no choice but to cut a deal With J.K. Rowling and Bring back the franchise’s three stars (Jamie Williams, Above the Line)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles at 35: An oral history of one of the most beloved road movies ever made (Jason Bailey, Vanity Fair)
Avatar and the mystery of the vanishing blockbuster (Jamie Lauren Keiles, The New York Times Magazine)
What’s on your mind? Leave a comment to let Popculturology know your thoughts on pop culture.
Top Gun: Maverick returns to theaters
I have a confession to make: I haven’t watched Top Gun: Maverick yet.
I know. I know. What business do I have writing a newsletter about pop culture when I haven’t even seen the No. 1 movie at the domestic box office for 2022? I’m going to fix it. Soon. Hopefully. I promise.
Anyway, the biggest hit of Tom Cruise’s career is returning to theaters on Dec. 2. Will I see it then? Probably not. I’m averaging like two movies in theaters in the post-pandemic era. (Please get your boosters so we can keep pretending the pandemic over.)
Wow. Top Gun: Maverick’s second time in theaters will be longer than Glass Onion’s entire theatrical run …
Keke Palmer hosts SNL this weekend …
The Nope star puts her claim to be an “octuple threat” to the test when she hosts Saturday Night Live this weekend. Will there be magic? Fitted-sheet folding? Find out when Keke Palmer takes the stage on Saturday!
… and Steve Martin, Martin Short and Austin Butler will host final SNLs of 2022
And after Palmer’s hosting gig, we then turn to the final two SNLs of the season. The show announced earlier in the week that the combo of Steve Martin and Martin Short will host the Dec. 10 episode and Austin Butler will host the Dec. 17 episode.
Lots of pressure for Butler with that Christmas episode. Recent hosts of the final SNL before Christmas include Paul Rudd, Kristin Wiig, Eddie Murphy, Matt Damon, Kevin Hart, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler together, Jimmy Fallon and Fallon again (with musical guest Justin Timberlake).
Then there was the time Timberlake hosted the Christmas episode in 2006 — yes, the show when “Dick in a Box” debuted.
‘Fuck the Empire’
Turns out Fiona Shaw’s incredible farewell speech in the Andor season finale could’ve actually been even more hardcore. In talking with Empire, Denise Gough, the actor who plays Dedra Meero, revealed that Maarva Andor’s speech originally didn’t end with “Fight the Empire” — it ended with “Fuck the Empire.”
From the very start, a rebellious spirit was in the air. “Fiona’s voice was over all of us,” Gough says, recalling the finale’s fire-and-fury funeral monologue from Ferrix’s formidable matriarch. “Except, at the end, she didn’t say, ‘Fight the Empire!’ She said, ‘Fuck the Empire!’ Which we were all really excited about. But we weren’t allowed to keep it, obviously.” Even behind the scenes, Andor wasn’t your typical Star Wars show.
Andor shocked us in the many ways it pushed the envelope for what a Star Wars project could be. Dropping an f-bomb was a step too far, it seems. Oh well, Lucasfilm can save that one for an eventual Ewok series.
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