The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.
To begin, a casting announcement. Three of them, actually. We’ll start with the most recent one. On Thursday, Deadline reported that Kathryn Hahn is set to join the sequel to Knives Out, director Rian Johnson’s amazingly clever 2019 whodunit. This news came on the heels of reports that Janelle Monáe, Dave Bautista and Edward Norton were also lined up to star in the sequel, which is being made as part of a two-movie deal with Netflix reported to be worth some $450 million. If the news of a Knives Out 2 movie alone wasn’t thrilling enough, this latest update is pretty electrifying.
It also proves that this movie is likely to do exactly what it should: light up the damn internet. Back in 2019, Knives Out was kind of a sleeper hit. It made less than $27 million in its opening weekend, but went on to make more than $310 million worldwide, thanks in part to word-of-mouth and genuine goodwill. The people who saw it championed it fiercely. It inspired memes, and a rabid fandom for cable knit sweaters brought on by the one Chris Evans wore in the film. (See: #KnivesOutChallenge.) It was, in short, beloved.
It’s no wonder then that Netflix laid out such a massive amount of cash to secure its sequels. The streaming service does well with Internet-beloved cultish favorites. But unlike, say, The Office, Netflix will be able to own these sequels outright, because it paid for them. It’s possible, though, that Netflix may not own everything connected with the movie-cum-franchise. After the deal went public, whomever has been running the @KnivesOut Twitter account posted a somewhat somber message about not being part of Knives Out 2, leading some to call for Netflix to hire the social media manager immediately. (The original film was produced and distributed by Lionsgate and MPC and presumably that Twitter maven worked for one of them.)
This is exactly the kind of enthusiasm Netflix needs if it’s going to capitalize on its acquisition. Which brings us back to the casting. For one, Monáe, Norton, Hahn, and Bautista are all excellent additions to any cast. But for another, they’re all compelling choices. The first Knives Out succeeded because so many of the actors in its ensemble got to play slightly against type. It had Brit Daniel Craig—literally James Bond—playing an exuberant Southern detective trying to solve a potential murder. LaKeith Stanfield, an actor not particularly known for playing down-the-middle characters, was Craig’s straight-from-central-casting gumshoe. It had Evans—literally Captain America—playing an entitled and conniving brat. Often creepy Michael Shannon was creepy in Knives Out, too, but he also had an air of insecurity. Jamie Lee Curtis was Jamie Lee Curtis (there was no need to mess with perfection).