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Knives Out director plots whodunit franchise, Daniel Craig returns

Los Angeles – Hit murder mystery Knives Out is set to become a whodunit movie franchise, with Daniel Craig’s Southern gentleman sleuth tackling a brand new set of suspects, announced its creator.

The 2019 movie was a massive success for writer-director Rian Johnson, previously best known for the divisive blockbuster Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

An Agatha Christie homage about a family patriarch murdered in his sprawling mansion, Knives Out on Tuesday passed US$300 million (S$416m) at the global box office, despite a budget of just US$40 million.

“It’s always been in my head that if this one does all right, then it’d be really fun to do more of these,” said Johnson.

The film was nominated for the best original screenplay Oscar – losing out to history-making Parasite – and last week film studio Lionsgate confirmed a sequel.

“It’s really more like another case, another set of suspects, another type of mystery, but with Daniel’s Benoit Blanc character there to solve it,” said Johnson.

He has begun writing the second film, with plot details under wraps.

“I’m just starting to fish around... There will be a murder, I can say that!

“That’s the other fun thing about thinking about the next one. What other actors could we rope into this?” said Johnson.

Beyond the traditional detective formula, Knives Out earned praise for its comedic aspects, including its satirical look at the wealthy family’s prejudices.

And, of course, there was British actor Craig’s drawling “deep South” accent, based on the late American Civil War historian Shelby Foote.

“It ended up being kind of Shelby Foote by way of Foghorn Leghorn,” joked Johnson.

“He would go, ‘Was that too much?’ And I’d say, ‘No keep going!’”

The accent drew scorn from some viewers, but Johnson insists Craig’s deliberately “humane and clownish” accent was “never just like a joke”.

“It takes a really, really good actor to go big and stay real.”

Although Craig is the only actor resuming his role, social and class themes from Knives Out are likely to return.

The genre provides the perfect chance to tackle social issues without appearing to lecture or preach, said Johnson.

“In a whodunit, you have this little microcosm of society with your group of suspects,” he said.

Just as Christie used the genre to turn “the lens on contemporary British society of her time”, the franchise offers “a great opportunity to me to set it modern-day in America and turn the lens on ourselves a little bit”, he added. - AFP

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