×

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ to Open New York Film Festival

The Irishman” will, it turns out, be ready in time to world premiere as the opening night film of the 57th New York Film Festival.

Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating crime drama, which relies on special effects to “de-age” stars Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, has long eyed the coveted slot. After all, Scorsese is perhaps the most quintessentially New York of filmmakers and he’s also personally close to the festival’s director Kent Jones. But given the complexity of the effects work, as well as Scorsese’s perfectionism in the editing room, there was chatter that “The Irishman” might not be finished in time for a glitzy world premiere at Alice Tully Hall. Well, put those fears to rest.

“The Irishman,” the roughly $160 million crime drama, is one of Netflix’s major Oscar season hopefuls. It’s the ninth time that De Niro has worked with Scorsese and the first time that Pacino has been directed by the filmmaker. The cast also includes Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, two longtime Scorsese collaborators. The ensemble also boasts Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, and Ray Romano.

Based on Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book “I Heard You Paint Houses,” “The Irishman” focuses on the relationship between labor union leader and hitman Frank Sheeran (De Niro) and Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), the Teamsters’ honcho who disappeared in 1975 in mysterious circumstance. He was declared dead in absentia in 1982. Pesci will play Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino while Keitel will co-star as mobster Angelo Bruno. “The Irishman” will be released in select theaters and on Netflix later this year. There’s been a lot of debate about how wide a release the film will receive. Scorsese reportedly wants it to be seen on as many screens as possible, but Netflix doesn’t adhere to traditional theatrical windows. It likes its movies to play on its streaming service within weeks of their cinema debuts, something that infuriates major theater chains such as AMC and Regal, which refuse to screen them.

Popular on Variety

“‘The Irishman ‘is so many things: rich, funny, troubling, entertaining and, like all great movies, absolutely singular,” Jones said in a statement. “It’s the work of masters, made with a command of the art of cinema that I’ve seen very rarely in my lifetime, and it plays out at a level of subtlety and human intimacy that truly stunned me. All I can say is that the minute it was over my immediate reaction was that I wanted to watch it all over again.”

Many festivals, such as Toronto and Sundance, have a spotty track record when it comes to picking opening night films. It’s a fate that the New York Film Festival has largely avoided. There have been a few duds, such as “Last Flag Flying” and “The Walk,” but most of the kick-off movies have emerged to become major Oscar contenders or commercial successes. Recent festival openers include “Gone Girl,” “Life of Pi,” “The Social Network,” and “The Favourite.”

“I greatly admire the bold and visionary selections that the festival presents to audiences year after year,” said Scorsese. “The festival is critical to bringing awareness to cinema from around the world. I am grateful to have the opportunity to premiere my new picture in New York alongside my wonderful cast and crew.”

Although many members of the cast have appeared in seminal Scorsese films such as “Mean Streets” and “Raging Bull,” they’ve haven’t been in one of his pictures in decades. De Niro and Pesci last worked with Scorsese in 1995’s “Casino” and Keitel’s last collaboration with the director was 1987’s “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

The 17-day New York Film Festival is presented by Film at Lincoln Center. It runs from Sept. 27 through Oct. 13.

More Film

  • Mama Weed

    'Divorce Club,' 'Mama Weed,' 'Under The Stars of Paris' Among Highlights at UniFrance RDV

    A mix of comedies such as Isabelle Huppert starrer “Mama Weed” (pictured) and Michaël Youn’s “Divorce Club,” and director-driven titles like Claus Drexel’s “Under The Stars of Paris” were among the most buzzed-about market premieres of the UniFrance Rendez-Vous with French Cinema. The five-day showcase kicked off Jan. 17 with the world premiere of Martin [...]

  • Catia Rossi/Vision Distribution

    Sky Italia's Vision Distribution to Launch Film Sales Company at Berlin's EFM (EXCLUSIVE)

    Vision Distribution, the Italian theatrical distributor jointly operated by pay-TV operator Sky Italia and five prominent Italian production companies, is expanding into international film sales with a new company called Vision Distribution International, to be headed by veteran sales agent Catia Rossi. The new sales company will launch at the Berlin fest’s European Film Market in [...]

  • Olivier Assayas, Serge Toubiana, Daniela Elstner

    Olivier Assayas Dedicates French Cinema Award to Juliette Binoche

    After Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache (“The Intouchables”), Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) and Juliette Binoche (“Let the Sunshine In”), it was Olivier Assayas’s turn to receive the French Cinema Award from the film promotion org UniFrance on Jan. 19. Assayas was celebrated by UniFrance’s president Serge Toubiana and newly-appointed managing director Daniela Elstner for his contribution [...]

  • Spirited Away

    Netflix to Carry Iconic Studio Ghibli Animated Films

    The iconic animated features of Japan’s Studio Ghibli will be available on Netflix from February. The move is a further change of position for the studio which has repeatedly resisted the idea that its beloved cartoons would be released on digital platforms. Netflix, sales agent Wild Bunch, and Studio Ghibli, which counts Hayao Miyazaki as [...]

  • Outstanding Performance by a Cast in

    SAG Awards 2020: 'Parasite' Makes History; 'The Crown,' 'Mrs. Maisel' Earn Top TV Honors

    Neon’s “Parasite” won best motion picture cast at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, becoming the first foreign language film to pick up the top prize. Netflix’s “The Crown” was named best TV drama and Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” earned the prize for best TV comedy in a strong showing for streaming [...]

  • Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Lee Jeong-eun,

    SAG Awards 2020: The Biggest Snubs and Surprises

    The Screen Actors Guild Awards are always the first peer group ceremony of the new year, giving those who make films and television series the chance to celebrate each other. Going into the 26th annual ceremony, which took place Jan. 19, the nominees were a mix of industry veterans and beloved favorite and some newer-comers, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content