Netflix And Theater Chains Are Battling Over Release Plans For Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’


After months (nay, years) of waiting, Netflix has finally opened the Pandora’s Box that is Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman by granting audiences a preview of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro’s de-aged performances. As fiery as this topic may be, though, the streaming giant’s latest attempt to produce, distribute and promote yet another film with its sights set on the Oscars and other awards ceremonies is already rechurning the contested waters that were initially bothered by Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma.

Hence why Netflix is trying to negotiate theatrical distribution deals with individual theaters for The Irishman. Per the New York Times, though, the company’s negotiations with AMC Theatres and Cineplex have hit a snag:

AMC and Cineplex are negotiating with Netflix separately, the people familiar with the talks said. A crucial sticking point has been the major chains’ insistence that the films they book must play in their theaters for close to three months while not being made available for streaming at the same time, which does not sit well with Netflix. Talks broke down in July, only to pick up again two weeks ago, the people said.

The Times notes that Netflix had previously agreed to a similar deal for Roma last year, but the theatrical run was for 21 days and not three entire months. And as one of the industry experts interviewed for the piece explained, “Netflix is in the subscriber happiness business” and not the weekend box office business. In other words, Ted Sarandos and company don’t really care all that much about how commercially viable a longer theatrical run might be. They just want to get Scorsese’s film (and other original content) to its subscribers as soon as possible.

As for The Irishman‘s being an Oscar contender, the Times explains that to qualify, “a film must have a 7-day run in a commercial theater in Los Angeles County.” Netflix has done exactly this for previous films and will likely have no trouble doing the same for this one. Considering precisely how vocal critics like Steven Spielberg were to the streamer’s attempts to downplay Academy rules, though, Netflix’s desire to promote The Irishman may force them to “play by the old rules.”

(Via New York Times)