×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Netflix Mum on Theatrical Release for Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’

Shooting is underway in and around New York on Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” but there’s no iron-clad guarantee yet that the big-budget mobster film, which is backed by Netflix, will make it to the big screen.

Scorsese, an ardent cinephile, is believed to have asked for a commitment from Netflix that the long-gestating film – which he and star Robert De Niro are passionate about – will have a theatrical run in 2019. Sources familiar with the negotiations say Scott Stuber, Netflix’s film division chief, has assured Scorsese that the film will have a minimum two-week theatrical window. That would at least qualify it for Oscar contention.

But Netflix head of film publicity Julie Fontaine told Variety that “it’s premature to say anything at this point” regarding the company’s distribution strategy for “The Irishman.”

Even if Scorsese gets his wish for some kind of theatrical run, the film will almost certainly go out day-and-date in theatres and on Netflix, in line with the streaming giant’s usual practice. That’s what happened with Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories” and Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja,” both of which were released in cinemas and online the same day. (Both played in Cannes as well.) It’s also the case with Dee Rees’ epic on the rural American South, “Mudbound,” which will be released Friday on Netflix and in selected U.S. cinemas in an attempt to capitalize on its Oscar buzz out of Sundance and Toronto.

Netflix’s involvement with the “The Irishman” came after Hollywood studios balked on the project and its ballooning budget. The film was initially pegged at $100 million, but producer Gaston Pavlovich said in an interview with Variety that the ballpark budget figure for “The Irishman” now stands at $125 million, adding that it could “go over that.”

Production of the pic, whose starry cast includes De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Ray Romano and an out-from-retirement Joe Pesci, has been bedeviled by a series of complications. After languishing in development since 2008, it was pulled out of turnaround at Paramount last year by Mexican producer Pavlovich. The studio intended to take domestic rights, with international rights going to STX Entertainment for a reported $50 million.

But Paramount subsequently withdrew when it became clear that the visual effects necessary to make De Niro’s character, alleged hit-man Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, look 30 years younger in flashback scenes would push the film’s budget far past the initial $100 million estimate. George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic is reportedly employing the same type of effects that were used on Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

“We quickly realized that that Marty and De Niro really thought that the aging process was going to be a very important aspect of this film,” Pavlovich said. “The traditional [business] model was not going to work with this new vision of the project, and that’s when we entered conversations with Netflix.”

Those negotiations led to a deal being hammered out by the “Irishman” team and Stuber shortly before principal photography kicked off in August. The agreement required the undoing of “previous distribution agreements in different countries, because Netflix of course wanted a worldwide deal,” said Pavlovich, who thanked STX for unlocking the deals they had made.

Pavlovich declined to discuss specifics of Netflix’s release strategy for “The Irishman” but said that without the streaming giant’s involvement, the film “just could not have been done.”

“The market and the dynamics of the market would not give us the possibility…to risk that amount when all our data was telling us that it [the money] was not going to come back,” Pavlovich said. “We would have had to do a box office similar to ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ or even better than that, to have something even close to a return. And that movie had Leo DiCaprio and sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll….This is different, and Marty knew it.”

More Film

  • Aaron Paul

    Film News Roundup: Aaron Paul Honored by Sun Valley Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Aaron Paul is honored, Bruce Berman is re-upped at Village Roadshow, and Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher get a book deal. FESTIVAL HONORS The Sun Valley Film Festival has selected Idaho native and three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul as the winner of its Pioneer Award, presented by Variety for his [...]

  • Olivia Munn]EMILY'S List Pre-Oscars Brunch, Inside,

    Olivia Munn Says Brett Ratner Called Her Before His 'Howard Stern' Apology

    Olivia Munn is setting the record straight about standing up to “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, whom she alleges sexually harassed her over a decade ago. During a panel discussion at the Emily’s List pre-Oscars brunch at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills Tuesday morning, Munn revealed that Ratner called her in 2011 after he denied [...]

  • Flesh Out review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Flesh Out'

    Ignore the awful English-language title: “Flesh Out” is an emotionally rich, sensitively made film about a young woman in Mauritania forced to gain weight in order to conform to traditional concepts of well-rounded beauty before her impending marriage. Strikingly registering the sensations of a protagonist living between the dutiful traditions of her class and the [...]

  • Marighella review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Marighella'

    Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. For whatever one might think of [...]

  • Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his Night

    ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, DreamWorks Animation claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Ads placed for the fantasy film had an estimated media value [...]

  • Marc Weinstock Mary Daily Paramount

    Paramount Pictures Names Mary Daily Co-President of Marketing, Distribution With Marc Weinstock

    Paramount Pictures has promoted Mary Daily, the current international marketing and home entertainment head, to co-president of worldwide marketing and distribution. Daily will join incoming co-president Marc Weinstock in the role. Variety previously, exclusively reported that Weinstock, former president of Annapurna Films, would be coming to the storied Hollywood lot to replace David Sameth. Both [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content