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Rian Johnson Would Prefer To Slice Out Glass Onion's Subtitle

When discussing the title of his latest murder mystery "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery," writer-director Rian Johnson revealed that he's not completely happy with it — even though the film's predecessor, "Knives Out," opened the book on his new big screen brand of whodunits.

"Glass Onion," of course, is the new film featuring Johnson's original super sleuth, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). The film, like "Knives Out," features a large ensemble cast, although the only connective thread between the first and second film is Craig's perceptive private detective. Streaming exclusively on Netflix after a brief theatrical run to qualify itself for awards season consideration — Johnson earned a best original screenplay Oscar nomination for "Knives Out" — "Glass Onion" follows Blanc after he is accidentally invited to the island of tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton). Bron is hosting a close circle of friends at his sprawling estate for a murder mystery party, but when murder enters the equation for real, Blanc starts to piece together clues to figure out who is behind the crime.

Much in the way the title of "Knives Out" worked actual knives into Johnson's first mystery film, "Glass Onion" is represented as a unique set piece in the follow-up. Apart from Blanc, though, "Glass Onion" and "Knives Out" have nothing in common, which is why Johnson is unhappy that "A Knives Out Mystery" is the subtitle to "Glass Onion."

Johnson wanted each of his whodunits 'self-contained'

Both "Knives Out" and "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" are Rian Johnson's ode to legendary author Agatha Christie (via Nerdist), who wrote 66 mystery novels during her illustrious career. According to Novel Suspects, 33 of those novels featured her famed private detective Hercule Poirot. The first film featuring Poirot (Austin Trevor) was "Alibi" in 1931, and while the character (played by Albert Finney) would turn up again in the big-screen adaptation of "Murder on the Orient Express" in 1974, neither "Alibi" nor the author's name was part of the movie's title.

Johnson, however, appeared to have no choice but to include a reference to "Knives Out" in the title of "Glass Onion." Presumably, the familiarity of the title of his first Blanc film — which was made for $40 million and brought in $320 million at the global box office — helped brand the follow-up so audiences knew what they were getting.

The "Knives Out" inclusion, however, left Johnson miffed, as he wanted each of his murder mysteries to have their own unique identities. "I've tried hard to make them self-contained," Johnson told The Atlantic in an interview. "Honestly, I'm pissed off that we have 'A Knives Out Mystery' in the title. You know? I want it to just be called 'Glass Onion.' I get it, and I want everyone who liked the first movie to know this is next in the series, but also, the whole appeal to me is it's a new novel off the shelf every time. But there's a gravity of a thousand suns toward serialized storytelling."

"Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" is the first of two "Knives Out" follow-up films, which is part of a mega-deal Johnston struck with Netflix to produce the films. Whether Johnson's next Benoit Blanc film will carry the "A Knives Out Mystery" subtitle is a mystery that's yet to be unraveled. 

"Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" is streaming exclusively on Netflix.