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Daniel Craig's private detective on the scene in Knives Out

It’s been two years since director Rian Johnson made his first foray into blockbuster franchise filmmaking with Star Wars: The Last Jedi and now he’s back on the silver screen with something quite different in Knives Out. As the title implies, the characters will have the knives out for one another in the murder mystery, but will audiences have their wallets out for Rian Johnson’s fourth feature film? It looks like they might because Knives Out’s opening weekend could be bigger than expected.

The long-range forecast has arrived and Knives Out could be headed for an opening weekend of $15-$20 million. Box Office Pro is splitting the difference and predicting the Rian Johnson film will debut to $17.5 million over the three day weekend from Friday to Sunday.

Now it should be noted that Knives Out actually opens on the Wednesday before the Thanksgiving holiday. So although the film will ultimately enjoy a long five day holiday weekend at the box office, this tracking is only for the traditional three day Friday to Sunday frame.

We’re still about a month and a half out and the box office outlook for the film could change as we get closer to release and the marketing ramps up, but as of now a $15-$20 million opening for Knives Out is bigger than you might expect and a solid start for the $40 million film.

With the exception of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which had the benefit of being part of one of cinema’s premier franchises and the sequel to the highest-grossing domestic release of all-time (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Knives Out could enjoy the biggest opening weekend of Rian Johnson’s career.

Rian Johnson’s independent debut Brick and his second film The Brothers Bloom were both limited releases so they don’t offer a fair comparison. The director’s biggest film prior to Star Wars was the time travel movie Looper, which opened wide to $20.8 million in 2012.

So if Knives Out comes in on the high end of its tracking or overperforms, it has the potential to be the biggest opening for one of the director’s entirely original projects. Knives Out has some good stuff going for it too that could propel it to success at the box office.

Knives Out recently premiered at TIFF to positively gushing reviews. The film sits at a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes with many reactions to the film praising how hugely entertaining it is. Being really good bodes well for any film’s chances and if the entertainment value is as high as advertised, Knives Out could benefit from a lot of moviegoers seeking this film out with their families over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The murder mystery may also succeed well past opening weekend as a bit of counterprogramming to December’s big franchise titles like Jumanji: The Next Level and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

And although movie stars don’t drive box office in the way they once did, Knives Out sure does have a lot of them. The star-studded cast could drive business from adult moviegoers. The last star-filled murder mystery, 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, opened to $28.6 million on its way to a $102.8 million domestic run. That film was a remake based on an existing property, but Knives Out shares some of the same elements and can hope for a similarly successful performance.

There isn’t much working against Knives Out either. Sure, Rian Johnson made a lot of Star Wars fans angry with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Knives Out is being pitched with his name as “A Rian Johnson Whodunnit,” but backlash to the director isn’t really expected to hurt his latest film at the box office. The only other thing is that the early reviews mentioned the film’s relevance to certain current political issues and that could turn off some audiences.

Competition wise, although Frozen II will presumably still be dominating overall, the only film opening opposite Knives Out is Queen & Slim, which is tracking to make between $7-$12 million over the three day opening weekend.

Knives Out opens in theaters on November 27. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see what other movies you can look forward to this holiday season and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest box office news.

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