While the pandemic has turned Hollywood upside down, Netflix and Rian Johnson are thinking outside the box. It was reported earlier this week by The Hollywood Reporter that the streaming service and the director have struck a deal to feature two sequels for Knives Out. Although the agreement between the two sides for two movies is impressive, the structure behind the deal is getting the attention of Hollywood. Netflix is betting big on the talent instead of the story with the majority of the $469 million dollar deal going to three individuals. Some of the details of the deal have been released and they are really interesting.
The most eye-raising detail of the agreement gives Rian Johnson immense creative control, where he doesn’t have to take notes from the streamer. In a business where it has become normal for studios interject their ideas in movies, seeing a studio so confident in its director not to have any say is pretty shocking.
The other contingencies in the deal were that Craig must star in the sequels and that each must have at least the budget of the 2019 movie, which was in the $40 million range. THR reported that Johnson, Bergman and Craig stand to walk away with upward of $100 million each. This is a stark turnaround from how studios structured their budgets for films with a majority of money going to the story. Because of the pandemic, studios have had to pause productions and reevaluate which projects get green-lit again.
With studios like Disney, Warner Bros., and Sony changing their theatrical release plans in favor of streaming it has made the in-home competition grow. This has made Netflix change its structure to continue being the streaming giant it has always been. It will be interesting to see if other studios will follow suit and invest in the talent instead of the franchise.