Knives Out

  (Redirected from Knives Out (film))

Knives Out is a 2019 American mystery film written and directed by Rian Johnson, and produced by Johnson and Ram Bergman. It follows a master detective investigating the death of the patriarch of a wealthy, dysfunctional family. The film features an ensemble cast including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer.

Knives Out
Knives Out poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRian Johnson
Produced by
Written byRian Johnson
Starring
Music byNathan Johnson
CinematographySteve Yedlin
Edited byBob Ducsay
Production
company
Distributed by
Release date
  • September 7, 2019 (2019-09-07) (TIFF)
  • November 27, 2019 (2019-11-27) (United States)
Running time
130 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$40 million[2]
Box office$311.4 million[3]

Johnson came up with the basic concept for Knives Out in 2005 and decided to make the film after finishing Looper in 2012. However, due to his involvement in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he was not able to write the screenplay until 2017. The film was announced the year after, and it was sold to distributors during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Filming was completed in three months from October to December 2018.

Knives Out had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on November 27 by Lionsgate Films. The film received critical acclaim, particularly for its screenplay, direction, and acting, and grossed $311.4 million worldwide against a $40 million budget. At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, it received three nominations in the Musical or Comedy category, while also receiving Best Original Screenplay nominations at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards and 92nd Academy Awards. It was selected by the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2019.

In March 2021, it was reported that Netflix had agreed to pay over $450 million for the rights to two sequels to be written and directed by Johnson, with Craig reprising his role as detective Benoit Blanc, to be filmed beginning that summer.[4]

PlotEdit

The family of Harlan Thrombey, a wealthy mystery novelist, attends his 85th birthday party at his Massachusetts mansion. The next morning, Harlan's housekeeper, Fran, finds him dead with his throat slit. The police believe Harlan's death to be suicide, but private detective Benoit Blanc is anonymously paid to investigate.

Harlan's relationships with his various family members were strained, Blanc learns: on the day of his death, Harlan threatened to expose his son-in-law Richard for cheating on his wife, Harlan's daughter Linda; cut off his daughter-in-law Joni's allowance for stealing from him; fired his son Walt from his publishing company; and had an altercation with his grandson Ransom.

Unknown to Blanc, after the party, Harlan's nurse, Marta Cabrera, mixed up his medications and apparently overdosed him with morphine; she could not find the antidote, leaving Harlan minutes to live. Wanting to save Marta's family from scrutiny (her mother being an undocumented immigrant), Harlan gave her instructions to create a false alibi, then slit his own throat. Harlan's very elderly mother saw Marta carrying out his instructions, but mistook her for Ransom.

Marta cannot lie without vomiting, so she gives true but incomplete answers when questioned. She agrees to assist in Blanc's investigation and conceals evidence of her actions as they search the property. When Harlan's will is read, to everyone's astonishment Marta is the sole beneficiary. Ransom helps her escape the family's wrath, but manipulates her into confessing to him; he offers his help in exchange for a share of the inheritance. The other Thrombeys try to persuade Marta to renounce the inheritance; Walt threatens to expose her mother's immigration status. Marta receives an anonymous blackmail note with a partial photocopy of Harlan's toxicology report. She and Ransom drive to the medical examiner's office, but the building has burned down. Marta receives an anonymous email proposing a rendezvous with the blackmailer. Blanc and the police spot Marta and Ransom, and, after a brief car chase, Ransom is arrested. Blanc explains that Harlan's mother saw Ransom climbing down from Harlan's room the night he died.

Marta goes to the rendezvous and finds Fran, drugged. She hesitates but then performs CPR and calls an ambulance. Marta confesses to Blanc, though Ransom has already informed on her, and decides to tell the family she caused Harlan's death. At the house, she finds a copy of the full toxicology report hidden in Fran's cannabis stash; Blanc reads it, discovering it showed no morphine in Harlan's system, and interrupts Marta before she can confess. He reveals his deductions: after Ransom discovered Harlan was leaving everything to Marta, he swapped the contents of Harlan's medication vials and stole the antidote so that Marta would kill Harlan and thus become ineligible to claim the inheritance. But Marta actually gave Harlan the correct medication, subconsciously recognizing it by its viscosity, and only thought she had poisoned him after reading the label. When the death was reported a suicide, Ransom anonymously hired Blanc to expose Marta. Fran saw Ransom tampering with the crime scene and sent him the blackmail note. After Ransom realized Marta was not responsible for Harlan's death, but Marta still thought she was, he forwarded the note to Marta and burned down the medical examiner's office to destroy evidence of her innocence. He overdosed Fran with morphine, intending for Marta to get caught with Fran's corpse.

Marta tricks Ransom into confessing by lying that Fran has survived and will implicate him; then she vomits on him, revealing the lie. Enraged, Ransom attacks Marta with a knife from Harlan's collection, which turns out to be a retractable stage knife. Having recorded Ransom's confession of Fran's murder and witnessed his attempted murder of Marta, the police arrest him. Blanc reveals to Marta that he realized early on that she played a part in Harlan's death, noting a small spot of blood on her shoe. Linda finds a note from Harlan revealing her husband's adultery. As Ransom is taken into custody, Marta watches from the balcony of what is now her mansion.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

 
Several scenes are set in Maynard, Massachusetts. The car chase scene goes through the Assabet Woolen Mill (pictured), now known as Mill & Main.

After making the 2005 film Brick, writer and director Rian Johnson came up with the basic concept for Knives Out.[5] In June 2010, he expressed interest in making an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery film. He told The Independent that he wanted to make the film after finishing Looper (2012).[6] However, Johnson's next film project became Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).[7] Johnson spent seven months writing the script after finishing his press tour for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.[8]

In developing the film, Johnson cited several classic mystery thrillers and mystery comedies as influences, including The Last of Sheila, Murder on the Orient Express, Something's Afoot, Murder by Death, Death on the Nile, The Private Eyes, The Mirror Crack'd, Evil Under the Sun, Deathtrap, Clue,and Gosford Park.[9] The 1972 version of Sleuth, a favorite "whodunit adjacent" of Johnson's, was also an inspiration, particularly for the setting and set design, including the automaton, Jolly Jack the Sailor.[10][11][12] The title was taken from the 2001 Radiohead song "Knives Out"; Johnson, a Radiohead fan, said: "Obviously, the movie has nothing to do with the song ... That turn of phrase has always stuck in my head. And it just seemed like a great title for a murder mystery."[13] The name Harlan Thrombey is taken from a 1981 Choose Your Own Adventure whodunit, Who Killed Harlowe Thrombey?[14]

Knives Out was announced in September 2018, with Daniel Craig starring. It was sold to distributors during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.[15] In October 2018, Chris Evans, Lakeith Stanfield, Michael Shannon, Ana de Armas, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Toni Collette joined the cast.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22] In November 2018, Christopher Plummer, Jaeden Martell, Katherine Langford, Riki Lindhome, and Edi Patterson joined the cast.[23][24][25] Frequent Johnson collaborator Noah Segan was announced as being in the film in December.[26][27] In March 2019, Frank Oz, who previously worked with Johnson in The Last Jedi, revealed that he would be appearing in a small role.[28] M. Emmet Walsh was cast in the film to replace Ricky Jay, who had died during production.[29]

FilmingEdit

Principal photography began on October 30, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts and wrapped on December 20, 2018.[30][31][32] Other filming locations in Massachusetts included Berlin, Easton, Marlborough, Natick, Wellesley, Maynard, Waltham, and Medfield.[33][34][35][36][37] The exteriors of the house were filmed at a mansion located in Natick, about 17 miles (27 km) west of Boston.[33] The Ames Mansion in Borderland State Park, Massachusetts, was used for many interior shots.[38][33]

MusicEdit

Nathan Johnson composed the film score.[39] He previously worked with director Rian Johnson, who is his cousin, on Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper. The soundtrack was released on November 27, 2019, coinciding with the film's release, by Cut Narrative Records.[40]

ReleaseEdit

Knives Out had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019.[41] It was theatrically released on November 27, 2019, by Lionsgate.[42] Director Rian Johnson released an "in-theater" audio commentary for those watching the film a second time.[43]

Knives Out was released on Digital HD on February 7, 2020 and on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K on February 25.[44] It was made available on the streaming service Amazon Prime on June 12, 2020.[45]

ReceptionEdit

Box officeEdit

Knives Out grossed $165.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $146 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $311.4 million.[3] Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $82 million.[46]

In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Queen & Slim, and was initially projected to gross $22–25 million from 3,391 theaters over its five-day opening weekend.[47] The film held advance screenings on November 22 and 23, making $2 million from 936 theaters.[48] It then made $8.5 million (including the $2 million from the screenings and $1.7 million from Tuesday night previews) and $6.8 million on Thanksgiving Day, increasing estimates to $44 million. It went on to gross $27.2 million in its opening weekend (a five-day total of $41.7 million), finishing second behind Frozen II.[49] In its second and third weekends the film made $14.2 million and $9.3 million, remaining in second then finishing third.[50][51] The film made $6.5 million in its fourth weekend and then $9.7 million in its fifth (and a total of $16.6 million over the five-day Christmas period).[52][53]

Critical responseEdit

On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 458 reviews, with an average rating of 8.30/10. The website's critics' consensus reads: "Knives Out sharpens old murder-mystery tropes with a keenly assembled suspense outing that makes brilliant use of writer-director Rian Johnson's stellar ensemble."[54] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 82 out of 100, based on reviews from 52 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[55] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 4.5 out of 5 stars, with 67% saying they would definitely recommend it.[49]

David Rooney, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, described the film as an "ingeniously plotted, tremendously entertaining and deviously irreverent crowd-pleaser" and "a treat from start to finish," praising the film's script, the throwbacks to the murder mysteries of the 1970s, and the actors' performances.[56] Dana Stevens of Slate wrote "Knives Out knows exactly what kind of movie it is: a sendup of twisty murder mysteries with all-star ensemble casts that also loves and respects that silly tradition."[57] For The A.V. Club, A. A. Dowd called the film "madly entertaining" and "an ingenious sleight-of-hand crowdpleaser".[58] David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film an A−, writing "Johnson has devised a murder-mystery that's eager to defy your expectations, but unwilling to betray your trust. The film may be more smart than stylish, and it may opt for a reasonable outcome over an overwhelmingly shocking one, but Knives Out doesn't let the element of surprise ruin a good story."[59] David Sims of The Atlantic wrote that Johnson "turned the whodunit on its head".[60] Dani di Placido of Forbes wrote that Johnson "finds a way to revitalise the concept" and "makes murder mystery great again".[61] Director Edgar Wright stated that Knives Out was his favorite film of the year and that it is "fiendishly plotted".[62]

Andrew Chow, writing for Time, described the film as "one of the most unexpectedly subversive films of the year." Co-producer Ram Bergman said that the sociopolitical elements of the film were essential from its infancy. The film's lead actress, de Armas, saw it as a major studio release that stars a Latina and condemns entrenched aspects of American society.[63] Carlos Aguilar, writing for Remezcla, took note of the Thrombey family's "racist worldview", which contrasted how the Latina lead "emerges as a heroine for all immigrants and their children whose most inalienable superpower comes from empathy, civility, resilience and the utmost value for human life."[64]

It was chosen by the American Film Institute, the National Board of Review, and Time magazine as one of the top ten films of 2019 in each respective list.[65][66]

AccoladesEdit

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result
AACTA Awards[67] January 3, 2020 Best International Supporting Actress Toni Collette Nominated
Academy Awards February 9, 2020 Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated
American Cinema Editors[68] January 17, 2020 Best Edited Feature Film – Comedy or Musical Bob Ducsay Nominated
American Film Institute[69] January 3, 2020 Top Ten Films of the Year Knives Out Won
Art Directors Guild Awards[70] February 1, 2020 Best Contemporary Film David Crank Nominated
British Academy Film Awards[71] February 2, 2020 Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated
Casting Society of America[72] January 30, 2020 Feature Big Budget – Comedy Mary Vernieu, Angela Peri (Location Casting) and Brett Howe (Associate) Won
Costume Designers Guild Awards[73] January 28, 2020 Excellence in Contemporary Film Jenny Eagan Won
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 12, 2020 Best Acting Ensemble Knives Out Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated
Best Comedy Knives Out Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association[74] January 10, 2020 Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[75] January 5, 2020 Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Knives Out Nominated
Best Actor – Musical or Comedy Daniel Craig Nominated
Best Actress – Musical or Comedy Ana de Armas Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association Awards[76] January 9, 2020 Best Cast Knives Out Won
Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated
Huading Awards[77] October 29, 2020 Best Global Writing for a Motion Picture Won
National Board of Review[78] January 8, 2020 Top Ten Films Knives Out Won
Best Ensemble Won
Producers Guild of America Awards[79] January 18, 2020 Best Theatrical Motion Picture Nominated
Satellite Awards[80] December 19, 2019 Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated
Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Daniel Craig Nominated
Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Ana de Armas Nominated
Best Cast – Motion Picture Knives Out Won
Saturn Awards 2021 Best Thriller Film Knives Out Pending
Best Actor Daniel Craig Pending
Best Supporting Actor Chris Evans Pending
Best Supporting Actress Ana de Armas Pending
Jamie Lee Curtis Pending
Best Editing Bob Dusay Pending
Best Music Nathan Johnson Pending
Writers Guild of America Awards[81] February 1, 2020 Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson Nominated

SequelsEdit

Before the release of Knives Out, Johnson said he would like to create sequels with Benoit Blanc investigating further mysteries, and already had an idea for a new film.[82] In January 2020, Johnson confirmed that he was writing a sequel, intended to focus on Blanc investigating a new mystery. Craig is expected to reprise his role, and acknowledged interest in the project.[83] On February 6, 2020, Lionsgate announced that a sequel had been approved.[84]

On March 31, 2021, it was reported that Netflix bought the rights to two Knives Out sequels for over $400 million and that filming would begin on June 28, 2021, in Greece. Despite Lionsgate's prior announcement that they had approved a sequel, reports indicate that Johnson and Bergman retained the sequel rights, which they shopped to other distributors without the involvement of Lionsgate or MRC.[85][86]

In May 2021, Dave Bautista, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., and Kate Hudson signed on to the sequel in undisclosed roles. In June 2021, Madelyn Cline and Jessica Henwick were added to the cast.[87][88][89][90][91][92][93]

ReferencesEdit

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