Netflix’s Release Of ‘The Irishman’ Called “A Disgrace” By Theatre Chief

This week has kinda sucked, having to do reviews for the theatrical release of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman as if anybody around here could see it. Because Lord knows I got enough questions from people asking where it was playing. The answer? In 8 theaters…in NY and LA.  >sigh<  This has done Netflix absolutely no favors, and people aren’t happy with the way the anticipated gangster film has been rolled out.

You may recall in August it was reported that Netflix was trying to negotiate with the major theatre chains, AMC, Cineplex, and Regal, about a release window for The Irishman. The chains hoped for a traditional window of 72 days before moving to a VOD release, but Netflix fought hard against that. No compromise could be worked out, hence the meager opening we saw yesterday.

In interviews with THR and the New York Times, John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, labeled Netflix’s handling of The Irishman a “disgrace“.

“Netflix is facing a challenge to their business model for the first time and missed a strategic opportunity,” Fithian said.  He also said that Netflix is sending “a signal to filmmakers that even if you’re Martin Scorsese, you won’t get the wide theatrical release you want through Netflix.” 

Somebody else who is disappointed The Irishman won’t be getting a bigger rollout?  Al Pacino and Ray Romano, who play Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa and attorney Bill Buffalino respectively. During an interview on The Today Show, Pacino and Romano tried to reconcile with the limited theatrical release and the fact that potentially more people will see it on Netflix…

“It’s a different experience,” said Pacino. “When you’re watching something on television, you know, if you wanted to, you could stop it and take that break. In the movie house, you’re just there. You are sort of prepared for another experience. I think that changes when you’re home…“But it’s still great that it’s [in theaters] and we have that.”

Romano added, “I think if there’s a movie that is an argument for keeping the theater experience alive, it’s [‘The Irishman’]. But the fact that it is on Netflix means that people who can’t see it will be able to see it also.”

The Irishman is out there for the few of you who can check it out, and will expand next week. Or you can wait until November 27th and watch it on Netflix. Honestly, given the 3 1/2-hour runtime that might be the way to go, anyway.