October 16, 2019
Netflix’s plans for the upcoming release of its Martin Scorsese film, “The Irishman” have shifted due to pushback from major theater chains after they learned of the streaming giant’s plans for a limited run. Netflix now plans to debut the film at the Shubert Organization’s Belasco Theatre in New York City, with showings from November 1st to December 1st that will follow a standard Broadway theater schedule. The company will provide modern equipment for the screenings. The film will debut on Netflix on November 27th.
“According to Variety, Netflix is also working with smaller indie-friendly chains, like Alamo Drafthouse, to provide ‘The Irishman’ with slightly more nationwide reach during its limited one-month run,” reports The Verge.
While this screening window will make it so “The Irishman” can qualify for the Academy Awards, Netflix was still hoping for a broader release. But major theater chains weren’t interested, largely based on pivoting from industry standards, which most often see exclusivity agreements between theaters and streaming platforms lasting upwards of 90 days before a film moves to the latter.
“That allows both the studio and the theater chain a chance to earn money on screenings of the film in theaters when audiences have no other choice but to see the movie for the price of a ticket stub,” explains The Verge.
Netflix continues to run into issues of this sort. As the company seeks more high-profile directors, actors, and projects, it’s stirring up competition-related concerns from theater chains. Netflix often has to find a way to adjust to more traditional standards to keep films eligible for awards season.
“Yet the crafty ways the company has jumped through eligibility hoops in recent years have earned it the ire of directors like Steven Spielberg and caused a messy withdrawal from the Cannes Film Festival last year after the festival disqualified the company for not meeting French theaters’ more demanding exclusivity requirements,” reports The Verge.
Last year, Netflix relied upon festivals and independent theaters to ensure movies like “Roma” (which was eventually nominated for Best Picture) could qualify for awards show entries.
“Netflix signaled earlier this year that it was hoping to cut more deals for broader theatrical releases, and the platform even agreed to start showing films in theaters prior to a streaming release in hopes that would help it make inroads in negotiations,” writes The Verge.
But this time, the short window was simply too short for major movie theaters. “The Irishman” features Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.