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The landscape of how, when and where films get distributed is shifting, rapidly. The movie business is just that... a business. Which means that moves that affect the bottom line are contributing to massive changes about how movies get made and distributed -- as well as which movies get made and distributed. The major studios will always be the major studios, but players like Amazon and Netflix are stepping up their games, with the latter taking a huge leap by acquiring Martin Scorsese's next gangster film, The Irishman.
Martin Scorsese, coming off of the contemplative and deeply personal Silence, has been looking tor return to the criminal underground of such films a Goodfellas and Casino, and has circled an adaptation of Charles Brandt's book I Heard You Paint Houses as his portal back into that world. Now, IndieWire breaks the news that Netflix is close to finalizing a deal to distribute Scorsese's original film, The Irishman, to their 93 million subscribers. Scorsese had a potential deal in place with Paramount -- the studio that recently backed Silence -- but with Paramount Chair Brad Grey on his way out the door, the studio was less enthusiastic about taking a risk on a Scorsese gangster picture with an aging Robert De Niro, and Netflix stepped up to the plate.
Deadline adds that Netflix offered a reported $105 million for a full buyout of the rights to Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, which would focus on the life of mob hitman Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran. The trade notes that Scorsese is looking for a budget in the range of $150 million, primarily because he needs extensive digital effect to make his actors look younger, so that the movie can span decades.
When CinemaBlend sat down with Silence producer Gaston Pavlovich recently, he spoke about using CGI to bring Robert De Niro back to his Godfather Part II days for The Irishman, stating:
You don't use prosthetics, make-up, they have acting and the technology is able to have them go through different time ages without the prosthetics. So we've seen some tests and it looks extraordinary. We were able to film Bob and just do a scene, and we saw it come down to when he was like 20, 40, 60, so we're looking forward to that, from that point of view, for The Irishman ... Imagine seeing what De Niro looked like in The Godfather 2 days, that's pretty much how you're going to see him again.
It's incredible that we now live in an age where a streaming service like Netflix has more of an ability to close a deal to finance a Martin Scorsese gangster drama than a major studio. As Deadline points out, the Awards potential for The Irishman is through the roof... especially if Scorsese is able to lure Joe Pesci out of retirement for The Irishman as he plans to do (but, as of yet, has been unable to). By all accounts, the deal sending The Irishman to Netflix isn't done yet, but it looks rock solid. We'll keep you posted on any and all developments as they occur.