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SYFY WIRE Knives Out

Rian Johnson doesn't think 'Glass Onion' needed that whole 'A Knives Out Mystery' addendum

There's no mystery as to how Johnson feels about that subtitle.

By Josh Weiss

If writer-director Rian Johnson could change one thing about Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery — his second whodunit featuring the return of Daniel Craig's world-class detective, Benoit Blanc — it would be that pesky subtitle. Sitting down with The Atlantic to discuss the star-studded murder mystery (now streaming on Netflix), Johnson didn't mince words over his distaste for associating the Knives Out brand with a completely unrelated story, blaming it on Hollywood's current fascination with cinematic universes.

"I’ve tried hard to make them self-contained. Honestly, I’m pissed off that we have A Knives Out Mystery in the title. You know? I want it to just be called Glass Onion," he said. "I get it, and I want everyone who liked the first movie to know this is next in the series, but also, the whole appeal to me is it’s a new novel off the shelf every time. But there’s a gravity of a thousand suns toward serialized storytelling."

A third chapter in the Benoit Blanc saga is on the way after Netflix ordered two sequels last year in a whopping $450 million production deal. No details on the next installment are currently available, though the fun might not end with a trilogy. Last month, for instance, Johnson stated that he and Craig are both interested in collaborating on more Blanc-centric mysteries, so long as they can keep things fun and challenging.

"The second we feel like we’re repeating ourselves, or just turning a crank on a machine, we’ll stop," the director explained. "Because to me, the whole conception of this whole series is the same way Agatha Christie did it with her books — we’re doing something new and surprising every time."

RELATED: Every Rian Johnson movie, ranked

Daniel Craig in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Set amidst the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Glass Onion finds the suave southern sleuth traveling to a remote island in Greece owned by eccentric billionaire, Miles Bron (Edward Norton), who has planned an elaborate murder mystery party for himself and his motley crew of sycophants. Things don't go according to plan, however, when the celebration takes a genuinely lethal turn. 

Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Dave Bautista, Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, and Kate Hudson play the lineup of suspects in Johnson's latest satire of the stupidly wealthy. 

"It’s a sub-genre of the whodunit that I love — Evil Under the SunDeath on the NileThe Last of Sheila — the vacation mystery," Johnson told The Atlantic when asked about his rationale for the sequel's exotic backdrop. "I’ve been trying recently to dig up and watch more and more. But there’s not a lot of them. I think it has to be perceived as very popular in order to justify making a movie out of it."

Glass Onion is now streaming on Netflix after it premiered in theaters for a single week in late November. Per the streaming giant, it became the platform's #1 film title around the world with over 82 million viewing hours across 95 million in just three days.

Johnson's adoration for the mystery genre doesn't end with the Knives Out mythos. The filmmaker has an entire murder-of-the-week series, Poker Face, coming to Peacock next month. Russian Doll veteran Natasha Lyonne — who enjoys a brief Glass Onion cameo as herself during Blanc's sudsy Zoom game of Among Us — leads the project as "accidental detective," Charlie Cale.

Looking for more gumshoe work in the meantime? All seasons of Columbo and Murder She Wrote are now streaming on Peacock. You can also check out all five seasons of the original Quantum Leap with Scott Bakula, as well as the 2022 NBC revival which was recently picked up for a new season.