The Knives Out CinemaCon footage offers a taste of writer/director Rian Johnson's upcoming mystery-thriller. Before he goes back to the galaxy far, far away to oversee an all-new Star Wars trilogy, Johnson is returning to his filmmaking roots with an Agatha Christie-inspired whodunit crime film. Knives Out quickly came into fruition late last year and almost immediately attracted cinephiles' attention due to its star-studded ensemble. Headlining the cast is a who's who of A-listers including Daniel Craig, Lakeith Stanfield, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, and several others.
With all that talent on both sides of the camera, viewers are understandably intrigued by what Johnson has in store and distributor Lionsgate is excited by what they have. The studio scheduled it for a November 2019 release, placing it in the middle of a very competitive period at the box office that'll see franchise blockbusters (Terminator: Dark Fate), animated family films (Frozen 2) and awards contenders (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) vying for ticket sales. An official Knives Out marketing campaign has yet to begin, but Lionsgate gave it some spotlight during CinemaCon.
At the studio's presentation yesterday, some Knives Out footage was screened. Set to the iconic song "Live and Let Die," the trailer primarily takes place in a mansion, where detectives played by Craig and Stanfield are investigating the murder of an 85-year old man (Christopher Plummer). It began with Stanfield's character talking with Ana de Armas (who plays Plummer's daughter) and she jokes about how lovely Plummer's birthday party was prior to his untimely demise. Craig's character, noteworthy for his Southern accent, asks that everyone stays at the mansion until the case is closed. Evans was a definite standout in the footage, shedding his Captain America persona by telling people repeatedly to "eat s***" and cracking that Craig is "CSI: KFC."
The Knives Out footage was a solid mix of thriller and comedy, and most attendees enjoyed what they saw. Throughout his career, Johnson has always been one to put fresh spins on familiar genres and setups (his first feature was a hard-boiled noir set in high school), so it'll be interesting to see what he came up with here. From the sound of it, Johnson's spun a fun and witty yarn that'll fit right in place with his previous filmography. If nothing else, this should prove to be an amusingly entertaining palate cleanser for the director before he does another deep dive into Star Wars territory. Johnson clearly had a great time working with Lucasfilm on The Last Jedi, but it's nice he got this little break in between.
Another thing that'll be fascinating to watch is how Knives Out fares in theaters once it opens. Before Star Wars, Johnson's films weren't huge draws; Looper was his highest-grossing work with $66.4 million domestically, with Brothers Bloom and Brick combining to earn about $5.5 million. Of course, Johnson's profile rose considerably after The Last Jedi, making his name more recognizable to the masses and Lionsgate will surely want to play up that connection during promotion. Hopefully Knives Out is able to find an audience and deliver on its promise of being a unique and captivating original film this fall.
- Knives Out (2019) release date: Nov 27, 2019