You Know What? Good for Rian Johnson

You can find good sweaters, and very good directors, over on Netflix.
You can find good sweaters, and very good directors, over on Netflix.
Photo: Lionsgate

Rian Johnson’s Star Wars trilogy seems less likely than ever today, seeing as how the director just closed a $450 million deal to make two Knives Out sequels at Netflix. And you know what? Good for him.

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In 2017, Johnson took the numerous story possibilites left for him by J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens and turned it into The Last Jedi, a film that defied expectations in ways Star Wars movies used to. At the time, Lucasfilm was so excited by and confident in the film, it signed Johnson up to make three more Star Wars movies. When The Last Jedi was released, though, fan backlash was so intense that the company changed its entire strategy and made a film that went in a radically different direction than Johnson was hinting with his film (though that’s not an opinion shared by all). The result was the lowest-grossing film of the Star Wars sequel trilogy and a long pause between movies.

Meanwhile Johnson, licking his wounds despite making the highest-grossing film of 2017, went off and made a small, smart whodunit called Knives Out. A film that, on a budget of $40 million, grossed over $300 million. Johnson’s focus soon went to that and—according to Deadline, which broke the news—he and his producing partner Ram Bergman auctioned off the rights to the sequels to the highest bidder. That bidder, beating out Apple and Amazon, was Netflix.

Now Johnson, along with returning star Daniel Craig, will make two Knives Out movies for Netflix, the first of which begins shooting June 28 in Greece. Casting news should be forthcoming.

(For anyone wondering about the “inside baseball” angle here, according to the trade “The original was acquired in a single picture deal by MRC, which distributed the film through Lionsgate...Owned and licensed by Johnson and Bergman on a picture by picture basis, Johnson and Bergman had the right to make the richest sequel deal they could.”)

And while a $450 million Netflix deal makes it seem less likely those Star Wars movies Johnson swears are still coming might actually be coming, fans of his work in The Last Jedi have to feel at least a little validated right now. A filmmaker with talent and vision just closed a $450 million deal to make original genre movies. And that’s freaking awesome.

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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo

DISCUSSION

turbotastic
Turbotastic

At this point, saying “Fan reaction to The Last Jedi was negative” is kind of like saying “fan reaction to Vader being Luke’s father was negative.” That’s technically true; some fans WERE negative about that. But they were a small minority who were dwarfed by the massive box office returns and positive critical reception of the film in question.

The difference is, today those loud minorities have the internet to amplify their voices and cheap tricks like review bombing to make themselves seem more significant than they actually are. And sometimes, studios actually fall for it.