The Irishman faces uncertain distribution with Netflix and theaters still feuding


Nearly a month away from the New York Film Festival premiere of Martin Scorsese’s long (LONG!) in-development gangster biopic, The Irishman is facing uncertainty in regards to its theatrical release following the red carpet premiere. Or, lack of theatrical release.

The discussion is being had between Netflix executives Scott Stubbier (Netflix’s film division) and Ted Sarandos (chief content officer) and theater chains AMC and Cineplex over a theatrical release for the Netflix-produced epic.

Talks had occurred over the release, though seemed to have lapsed. AMC chief executive Adam Aron stated that “talks are underway with Netflix about [AMC’s] showing ‘The Irishman’ and other Netflix films, but the outcome of those conversations is not yet clear.”

The discussions over theatrical releases for Netflix films isn’t a new one, but becomes particularly heated with the involvement of such a prestigious film. Starring no less than Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, The Irishman has been an ongoing labor for the legendary Scorsese, with reports of its production dating back nearly a decade. For audiences it’s also perceived as Scorsese’s return to the American gangster genre that cemented him, once again, in the ’90s as one of the country’s finest filmmakers. It’s a big deal, basically, whether the film turns out good or bad. 

Reporting on the Netflix/theater talks, the New York Times recalls Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, similarly-perceived as a “prestige picture,” which Netflix gave a limited theatrical release for three weeks before making it available to its subscribers. Roma would go on to win Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Oscars, with Cuarón receiving two more awards for his direction and cinematography on the film.

I sincerely hope Scorsese’s big Hoffa film gets the theatrical treatment it deserves. Statistics might prove me wrong, but this writer is always, any day of the week, breakfast, lunch, and dinner a theater-goer, and always will be. Netflix has its place, no doubt, but for me the place to see movies will always be in a theatrical setting.

The Irishman premieres at the New York Film Festival September 27th, next month.

Scorsese’s New Mob Epic, ‘The Irishman,’ Has Netflix and Theaters at Odds [The New York Times]