Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman will make its world premiere as the opening night film of NYFF 57


Film at Lincoln Center has announced the opening night movie at the 57th New York Film Festival, and it’s a doozy. The world premiere of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman is set to open the NYFF on Friday, September 27th, 2019. The film will be released theatrically later in 2019, with a Netflix release to follow.

An adaptation of Charles Brandt’s non-fiction book I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman stars Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino. The budget for the Netflix production is estimated around $200 million, with much of that likely used for the extensive de-aging CG for the stars. Film at Lincoln Center describes The Irishman as “a film about friendship and loyalty between men who commit unspeakable acts and turn on a dime against each other, and the possibility of redemption in a world where it seems as distant as the moon.” Pesci plays Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino, Pacino plays Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa, and De Niro plays Frank Sheeran, the right-hand man for the duo.

Festival director and selection committee chair Kent Jones had the following comments about The Irishman:

The Irishman is so many things: rich, funny, troubling, entertaining, and, like all great movies, absolutely singular. 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.

Flixist will likely be in attendance at this year’s New York Film Festival, so expect a review and other news surrounding The Irishman and other movies screening there. I’m particularly curious about the de-aging CG and other aspects about this big budget Netflix production. These first stills from the film look okay, but will the CG have that uncanny valley look when the actors are in full motion? The first teaser trailer for The Irishman kept the actors out of the spotlight completely. While there has been extensive use of de-aging CG in recent years (note Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg in Captain Marvel), this could be the most ambitious use of it given the screentime of the three principle actors. Time will tell.

Given some recent financial trepidation at Netflix, this could be the last big-budget item from the streaming company for the foreseeable future apart from various announced or rumored projects, like Sandman and the Eddie Murphy special. Maybe the company caps budgets below nine figures from here on out? Will they even continue to do prestige films like The Irishman and Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, which certainly aren’t tentpole moneymakers?

If anything, this will be the most expensive Scorsese movie ever made. Then again, maybe Disney taps the 76-year-old director to direct The Fantastic Four or some sort of ill-advised live-action adaptation of The Rescuers. Stranger things have happened.

The 57th New York Film Festival runs at Lincoln Center from September 27th to October 13th. For more information and to keep tabs on updated programming, visit the NYFF 57 site over at Film at Lincoln Center.

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.