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Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro’s ‘The Irishman’ Headed to Netflix — Exclusive

Paramount Pictures was expected to release Scorsese's next film.

Casino - 1995 Martin Scorsese Robert De Niro

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, “Casino”


In a sign of the ongoing power shift in Hollywood, Martin Scorsese’s $100-million gangster movie “The Irishman,” his ninth starring Robert De Niro, has been scooped up by Netflix, which is in the process of closing a deal to release the movie to its 93 million subscribers in 190 countries.

The movie was going to be backed by Paramount Pictures, but with its 12-year chairman Brad Grey heading out the door, Scorsese’s team put together another package. As someone close to the deal put it, “Scorsese’s movie is a risky deal, and Paramount is not in the position to take risks. This way, he can make the project he wants.”

We now live in a world where Netflix is in a better position than any major studio to make a Martin Scorsese-Robert DeNiro gangster movie. Netflix would not comment on the deal.

Steve Zaillian adapted “The Irishman” screenplay from Charles Brandt‘s book, “I Heard You Paint Houses,” which details the life of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a mob hitman whose illustrious career is today best known for a supposed involvement in the death of Jimmy Hoffa. The movie was first announced in 2008.

Paramount hedged its bets by picking up North American rights while foreign sales company Mexico’s Fabrica de Cine (“Silence”) put the movie up for auction at Cannes. In a bidding war with Lionsgate, Fox and Universal, “The Irishman” sold for $50 million to rising studio STX Entertainment. That was the price, because Scorsese’s rambunctious Leonardo DiCaprio comedy, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” was a global hit ($392 million).

Now, per their usual custom, Netflix is acquiring all world rights. That means STX is likely out, as is Media Asia, which picked up distribution rights for China. The movie has no official start date, but sources say it is aiming for 2019 release day-and-date with a limited Oscar-qualifying release.

Scorsese still has an overall feature deal with Paramount that runs through 2019. The studio released his last film, “Silence.”

In “The Irishman,” De Niro will be made to look 30 again by the effects masters at ILM, “Benjamin-Button”-style. His “Heat” co-star Al Pacino and other talent are still in negotiations. One possible boon for Scorsese: at Netflix, there will be no strictures on length.

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Well well well, it looks like the future is truly coming.

Gary Palmucci

Anne, that’s a helluva scoop. In last week’s THR, DP/Oscar nominee Rodrigo Prieto was quoted as saying the pic had just started shooting –true or false?

    Anne Thompson

    they may be in prep but I was told they had not started yet.


Why does this news make me sad?.

Matthew A. Finlayson

So will be released in a handdful of cinemas in major US cities only? Isn’t there a way for Netflix to do this without eroding the future of cinemas?

    Chris L.

    Eroding the future of theatrical moviegoing is what these folks believe they were born for. There’s an active hostility toward what they see as quaint and precious. It sucks that they can now display Scorsese as part of their trophy case.

      David Webb

      “Becuase you watched ‘The Irishman’, Netflix recommends…”

      Leprechaun In the Hood

      Leap Year

      The Last King of Scotland

David Webb

“… with a limited Oscar-qualifying release.”

You mean to say that Netflix won’t deprive De Niro of a possible “Best Leading Actor” nomination the way they screwed Idris Elba of his (guaranteed) nomination with “Beasts of No Nation”?


“We now live in a world where Netflix is in a better position than any major studio to make a Martin Scorsese-Robert DeNiro gangster movie.” This is stunning…The Times They Are A-Changin’.

It’s probably the right move, because Robert de Niro’s and Al Pacino’s last dramas didn’t do well & Scorsese’s “Silence” was his biggest wide-release flop ever. They don’t have the brand power anymore that they used to have.

But the great opportunity with Netflix is, that Scorsese can make the film as long as he wants.

Anyway, I’ll see this !

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