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Netflix’s plan kept ‘Glass Onion’ from more box office millions

Netflix probably left hundreds of millions of dollars on the table by not keeping Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion” in theaters.

The sequel to Johnson’s critically acclaimed “Knives Out” opened in nearly 700 theaters, the largest release of any Netflix original film to date, last Wednesday ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. “Glass Onion” leaves theaters Tuesday. It will arrive on Netflix Dec. 23.

The movie snared an estimated $13 million to $15 million during the five-day stretch, a solid opening for a film released in only a limited number of theaters.

Box office analysts, however, say that figure could have been much higher if Netflix had opted for a traditional wide release of 2,000 to 4,000 theaters. The truncated run for “Glass Onion” also prompted industry insiders to again question the streamer’s theatrical release strategy. Netflix has backtracked on its previous policies, including by introducing an ad-supported subscription option, leading many to wonder whether the company should rethink its resistance to the traditional Hollywood movie release model as it looks for new ways to grow revenue.

“With a traditional wide release, premium screen spread, and full marketing campaign, I think ‘Glass Onion’ could have generated at least $50 million to $60 million to lead the entire market,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at

Instead, Disney and Marvel Studio’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” continued to lead the box office, tallying $45.9 million in domestic ticket sales during the regular three-day weekend and $64 million for the five-day holiday period.

Netflix declined to provide box office receipts for the film, breaking with standard procedures other studios adhere to each weekend, so it is unclear what “Glass Onion” generated in ticket sales Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

But in 2019, “Knives Out” snared $312 million globally on a budget of just $40 million. The first film’s performance at the box office has provoked questions about why Netflix has limited the release of “Glass Onion” to just one week in a limited number of theaters. After all, the streamer reportedly shelled out $400 million for the rights to two sequels.

Box office analysts predicted the film could have hauled in more than $200 million in ticket sales before the end of its run if it had been given a wider global release.

“This is exactly the kind of movie adults want to see in theaters right now,” said Robbins. “The family element made ‘Knives Out’ a perfect Thanksgiving release for audiences across the country three years ago. Daniel Craig’s return as Benoit Blanc, Rian Johnson’s sharp storytelling, and another round of positive reviews for ‘Glass Onion’ are building on the excellent goodwill from the prior film as this semi-sequel reaps some rewards, but it arguably could have achieved even more.”

Word of mouth was a huge factor in the success of…

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