Netflix Makes Power Move By Acquiring Martin Scorsese's 'The Irishman'

You'll find no greater example of how far the movie landscape has changed than this: Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro's long-developing gangster film, The Irishman, is headed to Netflix. Not only is this a sign of how the distribution model has fundamentally shifted, but it shows just how strong Netflix is right now. This is what you call a power move, people.

There are a number of factors at play here, from the behind-the-scenes shakeups at Paramount to the box office bomb that was Scorsese's Silence (Only made $7M worldwide but cost $50M) to The Irishman's reported $100M+ budget. Indiewire's Anne Thompson sums it up like this:  The Irishman‘s move to Netflix follows the departure of Paramount chairman Brad Grey, who was apparently the guy willing to take a gamble on a $100 million hitman drama from a director whose most recent movie for the studio was an unfortunate box office bomb. That movie was Silence, which Paramount released into a box office and critical void a few months ago (although time will surely be kind to it). They also released Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, which was a box office and critical smash in 2013.

So with Paramount unable to take risks at the moment (That probably doesn't bode well for the delayed World War Z 2) and Netflix willing to spend big money for a true prestige picture, the pieces all came together nicely. Now all it needs is a confirmed cast. De Niro has been set to play real-life mob hitman Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran who has a list of high-profile kills a mile long. Part of the huge budget will be the de-aging effects so that De Niro can play Sheeran as young as 30.  Others rumored to be part of the cast are Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannavale, and Joe Pesci who has been flaky about this whole thing for years.

If Netflix follows their usual model we can expect a very limited theatrical run to coincide with its streaming release. While no start date has been set 2019 seems like a fair bet.