August 27, 2019

Why Scorsese, Netflix Can't Get a Wide Release for 'The Irishman'

Netflix and theater owners are unable to compromise how many theaters can and will play The Irishman

After the drama between Spielberg, Netflix, The Academy, and theatrical owners, it looked like things had quieted down with the streaming channel. But now that we're headed back into awards season, the same complaints are coming forward. Netflix's policy of releasing their movies online upsets theater owners who don't want to exhibit their films when more and more people are choosing to stay home. 

So how can they come to an agreement that allows distributors their exclusive window but also allows Netflix's disruptor image and experience to remain true? 

They can't. 

When will The Irishman debut? 

On November 1, The Irishman opens in indie cinemas that agree to show the long-in-development hitman film. Then, twenty-six days later (three days longer than they waited for Roma), the movie will debut on Netflix. The Hollywood Reporter had all the deal's details Tuesday.

Major theater chains usually have a deal that insists on a 90-day window between the time a movie opens and is released to be viewed at home. Their digital release (think VOD) agreement says it can be 74 to 76 days. Obviously, both these numbers are way more than 26 days Netflix is waiting for The Irishman. 

These talks have certainly affected the way movies are made and distributed in the modern landscape, and it's understandable that the people involved with huge streaming titles would be a little paranoid that there is bias against them. Martin Scorsese has been nominated for eight Oscars, which is more than any other living director in the history of film. He wants more wins not only for his legacy, but for all the hard work he and his crew put into the movie. He also wants the most eyes on their labors, obviously, especially since that is what he is used to. 

But as we mentioned above, theater owners are not interested in making compromises. And some Academy members were focused on movies having four weeks in national chains to even qualify for the Academy Awards. 

But those rules never even went to a vote. 

Netflix apparently tried to smooth things over with theater chains, offering a 30-day window between theatrical and streaming, but those talks broke apart. 

The Irishman makes its world premiere Sept. 27 at the New York Film Festival. Then it will be in independent chains November 1, and stream on November 27th.      

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