×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Theater Chief Blasts Netflix Over Handling of Martin Scorsese’s ‘Irishman’: ‘It’s a Disgrace’

In a sign of the anxiety that Netflix is causing in the film industry, the president of the National Association of Theatre Owners has blasted the streamer’s handling of “The Irishman.”

The drama, directed by Martin Scorsese, is screening at a total of eight outlets starting Friday. Those include the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and the 1,015-seat Belasco Theater in Manhattan. It will be expanding to eight other top markets on Nov. 8.

Netflix has refused to say which locations will be booking the 209-minute crime drama after this weekend. “The Irishman” will begin streaming on Nov. 27 — far short of the traditional 72-day window for movies to play in theaters before moving on to other platforms. Netflix is also continuing its policy of not reporting grosses. The company declined to comment when contacted by Variety.

NATO president John Fithian said he was disappointed that Netflix and theater owners couldn’t figure out a way to get “The Irishman” on more screens. “It’s a disgrace,” he said.  Fithian claimed that Netflix is leaving “significant money on the table,” warning that Netflix will become a less attractive destination due to its insisting on a short window.

“It’s a very big disappointment,” he said. “This is a major director, a cinephile, who has made all kinds of important movies for our industry. And ‘The Irishman’ is going to play on one-tenth of the screens it should have played on, had Netflix been willing to come to an understanding with our members. Netflix still has time to course correct and accommodate filmmakers who want a real theatrical release. If they don’t, their competitors surely will.”

Popular on Variety

“The Irishman” has a budget of $160 million and is one of Netflix’s major Oscar season hopefuls. It’s the ninth time that Robert De Niro has worked with Scorsese and the first time that Al Pacino has been directed by the filmmaker. The cast also includes Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, two longtime Scorsese collaborators.

Based on Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book “I Heard You Paint Houses,” “The Irishman” focuses on the relationship between hitman Frank Sheeran (De Niro) and labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), who disappeared in 1975 under mysterious circumstances and has never been found.

Netflix’s plan for “The Irishman” is similar to its release pattern last year for Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma,” which had a 21-day release at independent theaters before it started streaming. Netflix said the film eventually played at 1,100 locations worldwide but it never reported grosses.

“Roma” won Academy Awards for Cuaron as director and cinematographer and took the foreign language film trophy but lost the best picture Oscar to “Green Book.” That led to speculation that Netflix’s releasing policy could have inspired a backlash among voters.

The New York Times first reported on Fithian’s comments. Scott Stuber, Netflix’s head of original films, shrugged off NATO’s concerns and told the newspaper, “For ‘The Irishman,’ it was important for us to give it that theatrical run, to put it in big houses where people could congregate and have the opportunity to see it that way. But I also think people are going to love it just as much on Netflix.”

 

 

 

More Film

  • Arab and African Filmmakers Are Increasingly

    Arab and African Filmmakers Are Increasingly Focusing on Genre Films and Series

    2019 has been an excellent year for films from Africa and the Middle East, with a higher presence in A-list festivals, and kudos for films such as Mati Diop’s “Atlantics,” which won the Grand Prix at Cannes. The “new wave” of Arab and African cinema includes a small group of films that explore links with [...]

  • Producer Said Hamich on 'Zanka Contact,'

    Producer Said Hamich on Atlas Workshop Winner 'Zanka Contact,' Upcoming Projects

    Two projects from Franco-Moroccan producer Saïd Hamich won big at the Marrakech Film Festival’s Atlas Workshop this year, with the upcoming Kamal Lazraq-directed feature “Les Meutes” nabbing a development prize and the recently wrapped “Zanka Contact” winning an $11,000 post-production grant. “Zanka Contact” director Ismaël El Iraki was on-hand to present 10 minutes of footage, [...]

  • Major Film Festivals Are Becoming Key

    Major Film Festivals Are Becoming Key in Promoting Films From the Arab World, Africa

    Looking back at the lineups of key festivals such as Cannes and Venice this year, 2019 stands out as a banner year for movies from the African continent and the Arab world. During a panel hosted at the Netflix-sponsored industry event Atlas Workshops during the Marrakech Film Festival, Rémi Bonhomme, who works at Cannes’ Critics’ [...]

  • Robert RedfordRobert Redford tribute, 18th Marrakech

    Robert Redford Talks About Potential Next Film, U.S. Politics, Life Philosophy

    During a 90-minute onstage conversation at the Marrakech Film Festival, where he received an honorary tribute, Robert Redford spoke about his life-long quest for truth and freedom, and his political engagement through films, as well as a long-gestating project he’s considering producing, despite having announced his retirement. When he has spoken about the project, “109 [...]

  • For Sama SXSW Cannes Documentary

    'For Sama' Wins Best Feature at International Documentary Association Awards

    Syrian Civil War diary “For Sama” has won the best feature award from the International Documentary Association for Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts. The award was presented by Frances Fisher on Saturday night at the 35th Annual IDA Documentary Awards at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. The first-time award for Best Director went to Steven Bognar and Julia [...]

  • Two/One

    Macao Film Review: 'Two/One'

    Sometimes when you look out of an airplane window during a long-haul flight you get a view like the God’s-eye imagery that occasionally punctuates Argentinian filmmaker Juan Cabral’s intriguing debut: a dark, curved horizon rimmed with the glimmer of a new dawn. “Two/One,” the celebrated advertising director’s first full-length feature, seems born of this lofty, [...]

  • Colombia’s ‘Valley of Souls’ Wins Marrakech’s

    Colombia’s ‘Valley of Souls’ Wins Marrakech’s Etoile d’Or

    The 18th edition of the Marrakech Intl. Film Festival awarded the Etoile d’Or for best film to Colombia’s “Valley of Souls,” directed by Nicolás Rincón Gille. In his acceptance speech the director said: “Colombia is a country that people know very little about. But in this film I try to offer a glimpse of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content