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Martin Scorsese Stands Behind Decision to Take ‘The Irishman’ to Netflix: ‘We Have to Make the Movie’

"The Irishman" is about to become an awards-season juggernaut for Netflix.

"The Irishman"

“The Irishman”


Finally hitting theaters in less than a month, Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic “The Irishman” is about to become an awards-season juggernaut for Netflix, which threw down a reported $160 million to mount the Oscar-winning director’s vision of a post-WWII crime saga.

Speaking at a press conference at the recently wrapped BFI London Film Festival, where “The Irishman” held its international premiere, Scorsese took the opportunity again to defend the streaming giant after, according to him, most studios looked the other way. (The Guardian has the scoop.)

“There’s no doubt that seeing a film with an audience is really important,” he said, referencing Netflix’s controversial less-than-a-month window between the film’s theatrical bow and its streaming premiere. “There is a problem though: we have to make the film. We’ve run out of room, in a sense; there was no room for us to make this picture, for many reasons. [But] having the backing of a company that says that you will have no interference, you can make the picture as you want – the trade-off being: it streams, with theatrical distribution prior to that. I figure, that’s a chance we take, on this particular project.”

Netflix acquired the ambitious “Irishman” in 2017 after both STX and Paramount Pictures dropped out. The film’s use of costly de-aging VFX has been the center of attention since the movie opened at the New York Film Festival. It stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.

Scorsese also doubled down to affirm his belief in the sanctity of the moviegoing experience. “I thought for a while that long form TV was going to be cinema, but it’s not. It simply isn’t. It’s a different viewing experience: you can go to episode 3, 4, then 10; one one week, another the next – it’s a different kind of thing. What’s got to be protected is the singular experience, ideally with an audience,” he said at the BFI London Film Festival.

“The Irishman” arrives in theaters on November 1, before streaming on Netflix starting November 27. Netflix’s other awards-season contenders this year include “Marriage Story,” “Dolemite Is My Name,” “The King,” and “The Two Popes,” all of which premiered to acclaim throughout the fall festival circuit.

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