One of the big questions going into the Fall film season has to be the release plans for Martin Scorsese’s mega-budget Netflix film “The Irishman” starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.
As we know, the streaming giant hopes this will replicate the success of Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” come awards time and so the film will serve as the opening night title at this year’s New York Film Festival ahead of a theatrical release and later a launch on the streaming service.
Specifics of how wide that cinema release is and how long it’ll play in theaters before it ends up on the service have been unclear however. Exhibitors have long vowed to protect their three-month exclusivity window, a move that has forced films like “Roma” to either seek out smaller cinema chains or to ‘four wall’ a handful of small theaters within large multiplexes to show their films theatrically for a few weeks before hitting streaming.
“The Irishman,” with its inherently commercial appeal, is different. Scorsese and many others want to give it a wide theatrical run and so this is being seen as a bellwether film that could determine the future of the relationship between exhibitors and streaming companies.
If things go right, it could end a cinematic Cold War and usher in something of a minor new age in cinemagoing. If they go wrong, things will remain in this exhibitor-enforced detente we’re all trapped in now.
A new report in The New York Times says the $159 million film is now the subject of intense negotiations between Netflix and both AMC Theatres and Cineplex in regards to having a full, nationwide release of “The Irishman” in their locations ahead of the film’s streaming launch shortly thereafter.
Talks have been going on for months but sadly it would appear no deal is currently close to being made. Things fell apart back in July but two weeks ago they were back at it again and it’s all being held up by one issue – the 90-day exclusivity window. The cinema chains want to continue to enforce said rule, one that goes against Netflix whose core business model is ubiquity of access for all its customers all over the world. However, the chains argue that once they make an exception for Netflix, then other studios will want to follow whatever new rule is in effect and shorten the theatrical window even further.
Regal Cinemas, AMC’s biggest competitor, isn’t in negotiations at this time to show “The irishman” and in a statement Regal has made it very clear they won’t work with Netflix until they “decide to respect the industry business model and release the movie with a proper theatrical window.”
More as it unfolds.