Of all the film projects that are currently in development, one cinephiles are most interested in seeing produced is Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. Based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt, the crime drama tells the story of mob hitman Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, who took responsibility for killing more than 25 people, including Jimmy Hoffa. It would see the legendary director work with a trio of gangster cinema legends: his old muse Robert De Niro, Goodfellas Oscar winner Joe Pesci, and Michael Corleone himself, Al Pacino. Needless to say, that murderer's row of talent has excited many.
Unfortunately, The Irishman has made more headlines over the past handful of years for the possibility of it being made as opposed to actually being in principal photography. This film has been trying to get off the ground since 2010, but last year found a new ray of hope when De Niro stated he thought the adaptation could start filming sometime in 2016. Turns out, he could be on to something, since at long last The Irishman is finally starting to come together as U.S. distributor Paramount tries to sell the international rights.
The news comes courtesy of Deadline, who say Paramount is trying to finish a deal with Fabrica de Cine (who financed Scorsese's religious drama Silence) before the Cannes Film Festival begins on May 11, 2016. The two parties are reportedly in negotiations to get it done in time to sell The Irishman to international distributors at the festival. Currently, the odds of this happening are 50-50. Given the pedigree, there will be many intrigued to be a part of this film, so chances are something comes through regardless of when Paramount and Fabrica finalize their agreement.
One hurdle The Irishman needs to clear is its budget, which is rumored to be in the $100 million range. That seems like a high price tag for a mob movie, but there could be a good reason for that. De Niro has stated that Scorsese is considering using the techniques from David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button so that the elder statesmen of the cast can portray younger versions of their characters. That would be an interesting way to handle any flashback scenes, and arguably be the preferable option to bringing in other actors (and run the risk of imitations). Technology is now advanced enough that "de-aging" can come across as natural to most viewers, as evidenced by Michael Douglas in the opening sequence of last year's Ant-Man.
While this is closest The Irishman has ever been to becoming a reality, fans of Scorsese probably aren't going to star celebrating until the cameras are officially rolling. An ageless wonder, the famed director has become attached to numerous films in recent years, including a Devil in the White City adaptation with his 21st century partner Leonardo DiCaprio and biopics about musical icons Frank Sinatra and the Ramones. At this point, there's no telling what Scorsese will choose next and everyone will just have to wait and see.
Fingers crossed that those involved find a way to move forward on The Irishman. Scorsese seemingly gets better as he goes along; his last two feature films - Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street - were nominated for Best Picture. It's true that the speculated cast of De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci aren't exactly in their primes at this point, but each one is still more than capable of delivering a killer performance when the material is right. There aren't many directors better to handle a tale of organized crime better than Scorsese, so this could be a winning combination if all the pieces fall into place.
We'll keep you updated on The Irishman as more information becomes available.