Most of the biggest films of 2019 have been stories told within existing properties. As in, everything that's been a big box office hit is either a sequel (Avengers: Endgame), a "franchise installment" (Joker), a remake (The Lion King), or a reimaging (the upcoming Little Women). But Knives Out is entirely different. Like Jordan Peele's Us, it is a story that is original, introducing a new detective to the mystery pantheon. And if these Knives Out ratings are anything to go by, critics cannot get enough of it.
That's not to say that Knives Out won't feel familiar. Anyone who has spent time reading Agatha Christie or Arthur Conan Doyle will recognize the whodunit style immediately. Those who enjoy shows on Masterpiece and dive into series like Grantchester and Endeavour on PBS will know exactly what they are in for. Except there's one significant difference.
Unlike all those stories, which are overwhelmingly period pieces, this is set in 2019. It turns out the whodunit isn't dead or consigned to period costumes anymore. The eccentric detective story does just fine with gold iPhones and earbuds. Critics are currently giving this ensemble piece a big thumbs up, with a 96% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with 220 reviews logged.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praises director Rian Johnson's deft handling of the genre.
What a kick to watch whip-smart director Rian Johnson shake the cobwebs off the whodunit genre and turn it intro terrific, twisted, all-star fun that actually does keep you guessing until the deliciously slippery end.
A.A. Dowd of the AV Club says trying to guess the ending is a pointless exercise because the twists don't stop coming.
This, in other words, is one of those mysteries so clever and fiendishly well-engineered that you eventually have no choice but to stop trying to get ahead of it, to simply enjoy the way it plants and payoffs.
And Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly wishes the all-star cast each could have more screen time.
A silly, stabby, supremely clever whodunnit that only really suffers from having too little room for each of its talented players to fully register in the film's limited run time.
As for how the film is expected to do over the Thanksgiving holiday, Deadline acknowledges that it is unlikely to take down the juggernaut of Frozen 2. But even so, considering that it's an original story in a genre that was all-but-moribund on the big screen, it won't take much to look like a smash.
[The] Rian Johnson-directed whodunit... already bagged $2M from 936 theaters over Friday and Saturday night previews. What’s notable about that is that most paid previews of late are boosted by Fandango, Atom Tickets or Amazon marketing. Knives Out was an organic push by major and regional exhibition partners. Previews start again Tuesday night at 7 PM. Tracking is seeing $25M-$29M over the Wednesday-to-Sunday stretch, but $30M+ isn’t unreasonable.
Knives Out opens Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019.