Consider “Glass Onion” another triumphant case for detective Benoit Blanc.
As evidenced by the enthusiastic reaction to the premiere screening Saturday, Rian Johnson has again charmed the masses at the Toronto Film Festival with “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” the hotly anticipated sequel to the 2019 hit whodunit.
Johnson briefly addressed moviegoers before the movie began to play, giving a sweet shoutout to his grandfather. “My granddad Howard Johnson traveled here tonight, he’s in the audience,” Johnson revealed. “Granddad, you are my role model. You’re the reason I’m making movies today, I love you so much and I’m so happy you’re here.”
Also seated, of course, at the Princess of Wales Theater was Daniel Craig, who returns as the eccentric private investigator with a southern twang, and his co-stars Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr. and Kate Hudson. Dave Bautista, who also stars in the film — about a group of wealthy friends who receive a mysterious invitation to a reclusive millionaire’s private island, wasn’t at the screening.
Netflix’s boss Ted Sarandos and CAA’s Bryan Lourd, who helped orchestrate the film’s mega-watt move to the streamer, were among the packed house. The two-hour movie played to gasps, cheers and raucous laughter, culminating in a brief one-minute standing ovation. Then, the cast took the stage and fielded questions from the crowd, though audience members were encouraged to avoid talking about spoilers.
After a few rapid-fire inquiries (no, Johnson didn’t use 35mm cameras. yes, production took place on a resort in Greece), someone asked the entire cast to go around and share their favorite scene to film.
“Tell each one in the audience?” Hahn cracked.
“Every fucking one,” Craig said.
Hudson added, “I loved seeing all of us come together. We shot it all separately.“
Monae got sentimental, saying it was the “scene you didn’t see. The scene of us all working together on this movie.” Cue the audible “aww” — and then chuckles— from the crowd.
One movie-lover asked Johnson what it’s like to make a film that’s smarter than the audience.
“My grandfather, ladies and gentleman,” the director quipped. But he rejected the hypothesis. “It’s to take them on a ride rather than a chess game. At the end of the day movies are there to sit in a big crowd and have a blast.”
The ecstatic TIFF reception for “Glass Onion” is familiar to Johnson, who debuted the first “Knives Out” at the festival in pre-pandemic times. The crowd-pleasing murder mystery became a sleeper hit at the box office, making a killer $165 million in North America and $311 million worldwide against a $40 million budget. Johnson, who wrote the script in addition to directing, landed an Oscar nomination in the original screenplay category.
How do you manage to make lightning, at least of the filmmaking variety, strike twice?
“The phrase I kept coming back to and talking about the first movie is, ‘It’s a roller coaster and not a crossword puzzle,’” writer, director, and producer Rian Johnson said in an interview with Netflix’s Tudum. “It’s a common mistake in writing whodunits, thinking that you’re making a crossword puzzle, and that the fun is that the audience is actually going to analyze all this and figure it out.”
Craig, whose scene-chewing performance was especially praised, is the only actor to return for the follow-up. Only three years have passed since the original, but Craig felt he needed to brush up on the sly detective’s distinct drawl.
“I went away to work with an accent coach for three or four months before we started shooting,” Craig previously told Empire magazine. “I’d forgotten the accent and I didn’t want to do a pastiche. I wanted to make it as grounded and as anchored in reality as possible.”
Though Lionsgate released the first film in theaters, Netflix is now the rightful owner of the “Knives Out” franchise after buying the rights last year for $450 million. “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” will stream on Netflix starting Dec. 23.
The film open in theaters ahead of that date, but Netflix has yet to reveal the theatrical release date. But a limited theatrical release may be a mistake, judging by the reception in the room.
In any case, there’s good news for the Benoit Blanc groupies. Rian Johnson has more “Knives Out” sequels in mind. “I’m going to keep making these until Daniel [Craig] blocks me on his phone,” he told the audience.