Wow, Rian Johnson's Knives Out May Make Twice As Much Money As Expected

Daniel Craig in Knives Out
(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Knives Out? More like wallets out, amiright? (Just be glad I didn't write the movie script.) Rian Johnson's follow-up to Star Wars: The Last Jedi seems to be enjoying rave reviews from both critics and fans. That has to feel good. The stronger-than-expected box office debut also has to be helping his hope to keep making non-sequel sequels with Daniel Craig's Detective Benoit Blanc.

The star-studded whodunit mystery-comedy Knives Out opened November 27, the day before Thanksgiving. The movie made $6.2 million on Thanksgiving day, per Variety, which suggests the movie could make as much as $45 million across the five-day holiday weekend.

If so, that would double the initial estimates that Knives Out could make $20-$25 million. More recently, Knives Out was looking at $25-$30 million. But now even Lionsgate is confident enough to forecast an opening of $39 million, with the ultimate number coming in on Sunday. I'm thinking at least $40 million, with $45 million not out of reach. But we'll see.

According to THR, Knives Out was made on a production budget of about $40 million -- which is slightly surprising, to me, considering the heavy-hitter cast from Daniel Craig and Chris Evans to Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, and Toni Collette. So a domestic opening weekend around $40 million would be a great start. It wouldn't cover marketing costs, but it also wouldn't include the money made at the international box office.

As Forbes noted, Knives Out's opening is a big win and even better than the $29 million Friday-to-Sunday debut of the November 2017 Agatha Christie adaptation Murder on the Orient Express. However, Forbes suspects the distinctly American Knives Out won't be able to make as much money overseas as Kenneth Branagh’s movie. (Murder on the Orient Express made $102M domestic, $249M international.)

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Critics and fans are neck-and-neck with positive endorsements for Knives Out on Rotten Tomatoes -- 96% and 95%, respectively. The film also earned an A- CinemaScore from moviegoers polled on opening night. That's the same score that Frozen II got.

There's no question positive buzz is driving this Knives Out win, but lack of new movies for adults probably helped. Frozen II is still going to dominate the box office this Thanksgiving weekend, but Knives Out is cleaning up in its own lane.

Never underestimate the draw of a good murder mystery -- or even a just OK one like Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston's Murder Mystery. The more stars you can add, the better, and Knives Out has a ton. It's also just refreshing to see an original movie do so well. It's not a sequel, not part of a franchise, not based on a true story or any other material. Rian Johnson just wrote the damn thing and made a movie. Bless him.

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Rian Johnson is certainly enjoying the raves for Knives Out, which he both wrote and directed. And even though he seems to be more than fine with the criticism about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, this has to feel like a great personal endorsement, no?

Keep up with everything still headed to the big screen this year with our 2019 movie release date schedule.

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Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.