Martin Scorsese Bringing His ‘The Irishman’ to Netflix in Unexpected Move
Sound the alarm emojis — last night brought a new update on the slow gestation of Martin Scorsese’s next feature film project, the mob drama The Irishman. It’s already a hot property, boasting a cast including Marty favorites Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci along with newcomer Al Pacino, who already spent the last two decades acting as if he was in the third act of Goodfellas anyhow. “Martin Scorsese doing another crime epic with some of today‘s greatest living actors” turned out to be quite the tantalizing prospect, too, because last night brought the news that Netflix has purchased the rights to the film right out from under Paramount.
Indiewire first broke the news that Scorsese would take his business to the online-streaming giant, and Deadline estimated the deal’s price tag at a princely sum of $105 million. Though this comes as a surprise for Scorsese, who released his last four films wth Paramount, it makes perfect sense — Paramount balked at Scorsese’s proposed budget for Silence and then essentially released it in secret. The studio recently lost longtime chairman Brad Grey, and with the operation in a difficult transitional period, a costly risk such as The Irishman would have been an inadvisable move.
The question of how Netflix will release this film persists, however. Indiewire’s item cites unnamed sources indicating that Netflix will pursue a day-and-date release of the film, uploading it to their online content library the same day that it enters a handful of brick-and-mortar movie theaters. (This is the same way they released Beasts of No Nation... which barely anyone saw on the big screen.) Many theaters have pushed back against this model, fairly noting that nobody in their right mind will want to drag their carcass off the couch and pony up $15 for something they could watch for free in the comfort of their own home. So even as Netflix pursues a theatrical run, accessibility for audiences could be extremely limited.
In a final analysis — causes for concern include the possibility that a Martin Scorsese film won’t be exhibited the way it was meant to be seen. But overall, a major director getting the budget he wants without strictures on length is probably a good thing. Netflix, just keep on Netflixin’.