Paul Schrader Says Netflix Will Only Release Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ in Theaters for Two Weeks

Zack Sharf

Paul Schrader and Martin Scorsese are responsible for one of the most iconic films ever made with “Taxi Driver,” and the two have remained collaborators and friends in the following decades. For this reason, it’s not too far-fetched for Schrader to know some early details about Scorsese’s “The Irishman.” The director’s return to the gangster genre is expected to debut in 2019 from Netflix. Schrader recently told /Film that fans shouldn’t anticipate a major theatrical release for “The Irishman” from Netflix just because it’s a Scorsese film.

“Two weeks, that’s all [Scorsese] could get as his theatrical window,” Schrader said. “Netflix doesn’t care about theatrical windows. The studios are collapsing. Netflix is the new model.”

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Netflix has not announced any release plans for “The Irishman” in general, let alone any theatrical plans. Scorsese is currently in post-production on the movie, which stars Robert De Niro as mobster Frank Sheeran and recounts the gangster’s involvement in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa. The supporting cast includes Al Pacino, Ray Romano, and Joe Pesci. Screenwriter Steven Zaillian used Charles Brandt’s novel “I Heard You Paint Houses” as the basis for the script.

“Netflix has also upended film financing because since the ’70s, a lot of films are financed by selling territories,” Schrader continued about the streaming giant. “You sell foreign territories, you get some equity. But Netflix and Amazon, they don’t want territories. They want the world or nothing. And so when you go to Netflix, they get the world and there are no profit statements and there are no box office figures but you get paid. So the reason, you know, Marty’s got $140,000,000 for that film is because he’s getting essentially paid up front.”

Netflix is known to give its awards players a limited theatrical run to qualify them for Oscars. These limited engagements often last at minimum a week, but some felt Scorsese’s heavyweight status would call for Netflix to be more open-ended with “The Irishman.” According to Schrader, that’s not the case. While some insiders believe Netflix could change its policy for the upcoming release of “Roma,” the new film by Alfonso Cuarón that is widely seen as Netflix’s biggest Oscar player to date, the company has not yet announced its formal theatrical release plans for December.

Schrader returned to the director’s chair earlier this year with “First Reformed,” the A24-backed morality drama starring Ethan Hawke as a conflicted priest. Hawke recently earned a Gotham Awards nomination for his performance.

IndieWire has reached out to Netflix for further comment.

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