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Netflix's Knives Out Deal Was Even More Expensive Than We Thought

Arriving on Netflix in late December and having seen a limited theatrical release, "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" is one of the most buzzed-about movies of the season. The sequel to director Rian Johnson's delightful "Knives Out," the film once again features Daniel Craig as detective Benoit Blanc alongside an ensemble cast that includes Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, and Kathryn Hahn.

While the first "Knives Out" was released by Lionsgate, "Glass Onion" is a Netflix production — hence the very limited theatrical release — and the streamer paid a pretty penny for it. At first glance, that seems unsurprising. After all, "Knives Out" went on to earn over $300 million at the global box office (via Box Office Mojo). But taking a step back, it's clear that Netflix doesn't make its money at the theater. It's in the business of adding subscribers to its streaming service. In fact, it won't even specify how much "Glass Onion" made during its week-long run in theaters, but estimates circle a $15 million rake-in.

So, just how much did Netflix pay for the privilege of producing "Knives Out" movies, and how much are they betting on that investment? As it turns out, the answer to both questions is more than you might have thought.

Netflix invested nearly half a billion dollars in the Knives Out franchise

As noted by Variety, Netflix paid for director Rian Johnson's "Glass Onion" and a future second "Knives Out" sequel to the tune of $450 million and shelled out an additional $40 million to produce "Glass Onion." Those are interesting figures, not least because of the gulf between them. While $40 million is certainly a lot of money and is in line with costs from the original "Knives Out" (as noted by The Hollywood Reporter), it pales in comparison to other modern budgets for movies of its profile and even withers next to other Netflix productions. For instance, the company spent $200 million on production for its action blockbuster "Red Notice" and a further $200 million on "The Gray Man" (via Slate). And it looks even more like peanuts compared to tentpole franchises like the MCU, which regularly spend upward of $300 million per production. A whodunit flick like "Glass Onion" certainly doesn't carry the same production costs as something like Michael Bay's "6 Underground" ($150 million according to The Hollywood Reporter), but even so, $40 million puts Johnson's more in league with indie films than with other mainstream affairs.

Then there's that $450 million rights purchase to "Glass Onion" and the yet untitled third film in the "Knives Out" franchise. That's a lot of money for two movies, especially during a time when streaming services are feeling more economic pressure than ever before, and it signals a strong level of confidence from Netflix. The short and limited theatrical release may have drummed up excitement for "Glass Onion," but the streamer is likely hoping to make the bulk of its returns from people opening new Netflix accounts when the film hits its website on December 23.