By Nick Milligan
Netflix have continued their growth into a Hollywood powerhouse with the purchase of Martin Scorsese’s next project, The Irishman. The major project will play to Netflix’s 93 million subscribers across 190 countries, and will also have a limited theatrical run, to ensure its qualification for the Academy Awards.
Scorsese’s return to the gangster genre was originally a Paramount Pictures project, but with a changing of the guard at that studio in the departure of 12-year chairman Brad Grey, and a general feeling that the size of the project was too risky, they’ve passed the torch to Netflix and its very deep pockets. The budget for The Irishman is $105m.
Paramount’s concerns were understandable given their release of Scorsese’s 161-minute epic Silence, which only recouped about a third of the film’s $40m budget and was largely snubbed at major award ceremonies.
The Irishman, however, is a much safer bet – even with its $105m purse. It’s the anticipated reunion of Scorsese and long-time muse Robert De Niro, their first feature-length movie together since Casino in 1995 (they did reunite for a promotional short film called The Audition in 2015, a $70m 15-minute advertisement for Studio City Macau Resort and Casino that also starred Leonard DiCaprio and Brad Pitt). It will be the pair’s ninth film together, continuing a cinematic partnership that stretches back to Mean Streets in 1973.
The Irishman brings together other Scorsese favourites like Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel but, most significantly, with mark the very first time the legendary director and Al Pacino have worked together.
Working from a screenplay by Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), the film is an adaptation of Charles Brandt’s novel I Heard You Paint Houses, which details the life of Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a mob hitman who was linked to the death of infamous union leader Jimmy Hoffa.
According to IndieWire, De Niro will be made to look 30 again through special effects wizardry. There will also be no pressure in regards to running time, so expect another three-hour Scorsese opus.
Netflix has increased its output of original movies, with some already having had critical success. Beasts of No Nation garnered a Golden Globe nomination for Idris Elba. They also made the latest Christopher Guest mockumentary Mascots, and the upcoming Robert Redford science fiction The Discovery. They’re also behind the new David Ayer-directed Will Smith blockbuster Bright.