Martin Scorsese's The Irishman will receive a limited theatrical run in early November, before becoming available to stream online a few weeks later. After a big showing at the 91st Academy Awards with Roma, Netflix is once again looking to make a splash in the Oscar race this year. Arguably their biggest offering of the season is The Irishman, in which Scorsese reunites with his longtime collaborators Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. Other icons of crime cinema, like Al Pacino and Harvey Keitel, also have roles, making The Irishman one of the most anticipated offerings of the fall.
The Irishman is set to have its world premiere at the 2019 New York Film Festival in September, but it's been unknown when it would be released to the general public. The Irishman trailer that came out earlier this summer simply promised it would be online in the fall, but now cinephiles know exactly when they'll be able to see Scorsese's latest gangster epic.
According to Variety, the plan is for The Irishman to open theatrically in New York and Los Angeles on November 1, and then expand to more markets on November 8. It will hit Netflix on November 27, giving it an exclusive window of just over three weeks in theaters.
That theater-exclusive window was a key sticking point in Netflix's negotiations with major theater chains like AMC and Cineplex. Those companies wanted The Irishman to play for three months before streaming, which starkly contrasts with Netflix's typical distribution model. As a result, The Irishman is unlikely to play in AMC and Cineplex locations, but that's of little concern to Netflix. While they probably would have enjoyed giving The Irishman a traditional, nationwide rollout (which is what Scorsese wanted), their goal was just to get the film in as many theaters as possible. In order to qualify for the Academy Awards, a movie needs to play in Los Angeles for at least one week. The Irishman will meet that requirement, and if it lives up to its on-paper potential, it'll be in the thick of multiple races.
What remains to be seen is how many theaters The Irishman plays in; the Variety report suggests it'll be about 250 domestic locations. This means a number of smaller markets across the country probably won't get a chance to see the film on the big screen, which is somewhat unfortunate. It's great The Irishman will be readily available in living rooms come late November, but Scorsese has always crafted his films to be seen at the multiplex and a portion of the film's target audience will never get that opportunity. That's the double-edged sword of the Netflix model; without them, auteurs like Scorsese and David Fincher may not be able to make their next films, but those same master craftsmen have to compromise their beliefs on the theatrical experience so people can see their movies.
- The Irishman (2019) release date: Nov 27, 2019