Ted Sarandos addressed Netflix’s limited theatrical release of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery during the streamer’s Q4 earnings call on Thursday, echoing executive chairman Reed Hastings‘ previous remarks that releasing the film in theaters was meant more as a promotional tactic for the streamer.
“I’m thrilled with every aspect of the release of Glass Onion,” Sarandos said when asked if he had any regrets about the rollout. “I think what you saw was a lot of excitement. We drove a ton of buzz with that theatrical release, and we created a bunch of demand and that demand we fulfilled on our subscription service. Our core business is making movies for our members to watch on Netflix, and that’s what we’re really focused. Everything else is really a tactic to drive excitement around those films.”
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Netflix released Glass Onion in theaters for a one-week sneak preview. It performed pretty phenomenally, grossing about $15M. It was the best theatrical launch ever for a Netflix pre-streaming movie, with its 3-day opening of $9.3M placing it as the 10th-best for a title opening in less than 900 theaters.
The film’s box office revenue prompted some speculation as to why Netflix wouldn’t give the film a longer theatrical run, but Hastings quickly shut that down in November when he explained that executives were aware there was money left on the table — and they didn’t see a problem with that.
“It’s a promotional tactic for the streaming service,” Hastings told the New York Times DealBook conference in NYC. “We are not trying to build a theatrical business.”
He said the streamer’s “two religions” are “customer satisfaction” and “operating income.” The Knives Out sequel in theaters was a tool “so more people watch it on the service.”