Knives Out has some of the most fun trailers in recent memory. What can this movie teach us about writing and casting?
Have you written your latest project with an actor in mind? Or maybe an extensive cast you've already created in your head?
The onslaught of IP and remakes has made audiences feel exhausted at times. So what can we learn from the trailer for Knives Out about getting originals ideas cast and writing projects that attract this level of talent? Let's look at the trailer and talk about the lessons you can take from Rian Johnson.
What the 'Knives Out' Trailer Teaches About Casting and Writing
Rian Johnson is coming off the controversial Star Wars: The Last Jedi and ready to stir the murder mystery pot with Knives Out. It's a movie he directed and wrote, and it has an extensive cast of characters that all look fun, and all attracted huge names to play roles.
The movie's plot is about Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), a best-selling mystery writer who turns up dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday. Everyone is a suspect — a detective (Daniel Craig) sifts through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth behind the writer’s untimely death.
Alongside Craig and Plummer, we have Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Noah Segan, Edi Patterson and Riki Lindhome.
This is obviously a killer cast, pun intended. While it's hard to know the size of any of these roles, it feels like getting anyone excited to be in a movie, especially an original movie, is hard these days.
Sure, Johnson is a marquee director with an excellent track record, but this many names is unprecedented. It speaks to the ability to cast one star, and how the snowball effect to get others is present. It also speaks to the need to write great characters. Especially minor ones.
If you want a star to show up and shoot out quickly, you want them to know their time was well spent. If they are your friend, fine. But chances are your budget only allows for them to be there one to five days. So you need to make your schedule work, shoot fast, and write them a role they love.
If you manage to get them a character they truly embrace, you might be able to find a way to finagle their fee. Especially if your budget is tight.
The point is, make sure all your characters have a voice and have a purpose. That way when you work with your casting director you can get the most "names" possible. It makes for a helluva poster and also affects the streaming thumbnail and amount of money a financier may be willing to invest.
Hopefully, Knives Out makes a ton at the box office and is an incentive for studios to greenlight more original ideas.
Knives Out opens in theaters November 27.