Netflix is currently struggling to figure out the theatrical release plan for Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. The director's latest crime epic was originally set up at Paramount, who later balked due to the escalating production budget. It's been widely-publicized that Scorsese is implementing digital de-aging technology so veterans like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino can appear as "younger" versions of themselves for certain scenes. The rising costs were no concern to Netflix, who eagerly went into business with the iconic filmmaker.
The Irishman shifting from a traditional Hollywood studio to a streaming giant obviously impacts how it will be distributed to general audiences. Netflix is planning on releasing the film at an unspecified time in the fall, but they also want to give it a proper theatrical run so The Irishman can qualify for Academy Awards. Unfortunately, Netflix is having difficulties negotiating a deal with some of the country's biggest theater chains.
According to The New York Times, Netflix is engaged in a stand-off with AMC and Cineplex regarding The Irishman's release strategy. The main point of contention is the chains want The Irishman to play on the big screen exclusively for three months before it's made available to stream. Netflix, of course, wants the film in as many living rooms as soon as possible. The various parties only recently reconvened to discuss the matter further, after initial conversations fell apart in July.
One way or another, The Irishman is going to play in theaters. Netflix has too much invested in the project, and they're planning on giving it a major Oscar push when awards season heats up. AMC and Cineplex are not going to determine the film's fate at the Academy Awards. The only thing at stake here is how many theaters The Irishman will play in and where. If Netflix can't come to terms with the big chains, they can opt to give The Irishman a limited run in smaller theaters located in big markets. Scorsese, a longtime advocate for cinema and the theatergoing experience, is understandably pushing for a classic nationwide release, but he may have to compromise should the talks continue to go nowhere.
This issue isn't going to go away any time soon. Netflix is looking to make a splash at the 2020 Oscars not just with The Irishman, but also Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story and possibly Steven Soderbergh's The Laundromat. The streaming giant also has new films from acclaimed directors like Spike Lee and David Fincher in the pipeline, illustrating a concerted effort by Netflix to continuously be in the Oscar discussion. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out, but there's no denying things have drastically changed with the prominence of streaming.
Source: New York Times