Cinephiles are starting to get excited by Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating mob picture The Irishman finally coming into fruition, but the legendary director has another film to come out before he reunites with Robert De Niro. We speak of Silence, a religious drama that Scorsese has been developing since 1991. It is based on the novel by Shūsaku Endō, which tells the story of two Jesuit Catholic priests who face persecution when they travel to Japan to seek out their mentor and spread the word of Christianity. The film sports a top-notch cast that includes the likes of Liam Neeson, Adam Driver, and Andrew Garfield.

Scorsese has a tendency to make his works a bit on the long side; his The Wolf of Wall Street was a 3-hour opus of excess and debauchery. It would appear that Silence is another time-consuming endeavor, and going by the latest reports, it would be his lengthiest narrative feature to date.

According to Variety‘s Kris Tapley (hat tip The Playlist), Silence is currently 195 minutes, which is 3 hours and 15 minutes. Scorsese hopes to have the film locked sometime in October, so it’s conceivable he could trim it down. As The Playlist points out, the director’s first cut of 2002’s Gangs of New York was more than three and a half hours, and entered theaters at a more svelte two and a half hours.

For a while, Silence has been poised for a late 2016 release, but distributor Paramount has yet to give it an official date or unveil any marketing materials (save for a few stills). One has to wonder if the studio is uneasy about the run time and wants to see if the film can be shortened before they forge ahead. As compelling as the narrative of Silence is, it may not be the most accessible Scorsese picture to a general audience. The final version being three hours would only compound that business issue (i.e. the number of daily screenings would be limited). Silence obviously isn’t being positioned as a tentpole, but Paramount would still like to make a decent amount of money off of it. A two and a half hour cut wouldn’t necessarily guarantee tremendous financial success, but it would help some.

In addition, the studio appears in no rush to prepare Silence for a 2016 Oscars run. Paramount has a full slate of prestige offerings this fall and winter, such as Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi drama Arrival, Robert Zemeckis’ World War II romance thriller Allied, and Denzel Washington’s drama Fences (all of which, it should be noted, have release dates in place). If these three are well-received, then the studio has plenty of options for campaigning purposes and may opt to delay Silence to 2017. Scorsese has even mentioned that the film’s proposed 2016 debut is dependent on Paramount, so it remains to be seen what happens.

Those anticipating Silence should take solace in the fact that it’s still coming through the pipeline, it’s just unknown when it will premiere at this point in time. Studios are already beginning to raise awareness for their end-of-year releases, and since Paramount has only done minimal promotion for Silence, they might be unconvinced it will be ready for this year. Whether or not the run time has anything to do with that will be a debate viewers have, but when Silence does make its way to the big screen, moviegoers will have another Scorsese epic to take in.

Silence is expected to be released some point in 2016. We’ll keep you updated with the latest information.

Source: Kris Tapley (via The Playlist)