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Netflix to Show ‘Knives Out’ Sequel in Major Theaters One Month Before Streaming Release


Netflix Inc.

NFLX 1.39%

will release the sequel to murder mystery “Knives Out” in hundreds of theaters for one week around Thanksgiving, a month before it debuts on its streaming service, an unusual move for a company that has long resisted giving theaters much of a head start. 

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” will land in 600 U.S. theaters operated by


AMC -2.86%

Entertainment Holdings Inc., Regal Cinemas and

Cinemark Holdings Inc.

CNK -1.95%

from Nov. 23 to Nov. 29, Netflix said on Thursday.

The streaming company’s release plan for the sequel to filmmaker Rian Johnson’s popular movie is significant because of the number and range of cinemas in which the film will appear, as well as the amount of time between the film’s premiere in theaters and its Dec. 23 release on Netflix. 

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Netflix has for years resisted showing its films broadly in cineplexes, and on the rare occasion that it did, it usually did the bare minimum needed to qualify for awards competitions such as the Oscars, which requires that a movie have at least three paid, daily showings for seven consecutive days in at least one of six major metropolitan areas.

For Netflix, this has rarely meant more than a few hundred theaters and one or two weeks. Among its longest theatrical runs were 2018’s “Roma,” which was exclusively in theaters for around three weeks before it began streaming, and 2019’s “The Irishman,” which spent nearly a month in theaters before becoming available on Netflix. This is the first time a Netflix film has appeared in Regal or AMC theaters and across all three major U.S. theater chains.

AMC in the past refused to show Netflix titles because the streaming service didn’t adhere to a traditional theatrical window, a multi-month-long period between when a movie debuts in theaters and when it streams online, the way most Hollywood studios do.

AMC Chairman

Adam Aron

said Thursday that the agreement with Netflix “sufficiently respects the sanctity of our current theatrical window policy.” Finding a way for streamers and theaters to work together would help theaters make more money and help movies eventually reach a broader audience when they land on streaming services, he said.

Netflix is pursuing the “special theatrical event” in light of the acclaim the film drew during its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September,

Scott Stuber,

its head of global film, said in a statement. 

Kate Hudson, left, as Birdie and Jessica Henwick as Peg in ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.’


John Wilson/Netflix

This isn’t the first time Netflix has released a film to 600 screens—it did so with Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” zombie film in May last year. But that film was released to Netflix a week later.

“These movies are made to thrill audiences, and I can’t wait to feel the energy of the crowd as they experience” the film, Mr. Johnson, its director, said in a statement. 

Hollywood talent representatives, who have for years wondered if and when Netflix would take the plunge into the theatrical business on a larger scale, viewed “Glass Onion” as a bellwether for how far Netflix might currently be willing to give on the theatrical window, according to several high-profile agents. 

The deal that the streamer struck with Mr. Johnson, whose films represent one of Netflix’s few true franchise titles, is seen as the best that even an A-list filmmaker can hope to get from the company, at least until it updates its policy on releasing more movies in theaters, the agents said.

The first “Knives Out” whodunit film was released by

Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

in 2019, and Netflix last year acquired the rights to two sequels for nearly $450 million, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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