Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro Took a $159M Gamble With Ensemble Netflix Film After Streamer Surpassed Independent Studios With One Promise

The project took off almost a decade later.

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro Took a $159M Gamble With Ensemble Netflix Film After Streamer Surpassed Independent Studios With One Promise

SUMMARY

  • Martin Scorsese discussed his struggles finding financial support for The Irishman.
  • Netflix worked with the director and granted his request for a theatrical release.
  • The movie only ran in selected cinemas for a limited period.
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Veteran filmmaker Martin Scorsese sat with other renowned directors at a roundtable discussion and shared the difficulties he faced while trying to bring The Irishman to life. In fact, it took him nine years to finally find a studio that would finance the project.

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Netflix The Irishman
Netflix’s The Irishman

Even with his star-studded cast, the likes of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, the director revealed it would not have been made into a movie if it was not for the streaming giant Netflix. Why did the film take so long to happen?

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Martin Scorsese Reveals The Struggle Of Making The Irishman

During The Hollywood Reporter’s roundtable talk, Martin Scorsese discussed his desperation to bring The Irishman to the screen. He talked about how he could not get funds for the project, and as years passed by, his dream cast has also grown older. Scorsese stated:

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The studios just weren’t interested in The Irishman. What they’d make back on something like that, they figured wasn’t enough, particularly because I had to do the CGI. De Niro and I hadn’t made a picture since 1995, Casino, and over the years we wanted to make another film. We couldn’t get the financing, with him and Al and Joe, and when the time came around, any possibility of them playing younger was out of the question.”

Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese

Just when he thought all hope was lost, he received a call from someone who would eventually help him realize his plans for The Irishman. The director continued:

I got a call from Rick Yorn, who said, ‘Are you interested in Netflix?’ Financially, the film would have complete backing… willing to take the risks with the computer-generated imagery, and certainly, the main thing for me was creative freedom. The trade-off is that it’s a streamer.”

This was now the part where he asked if the movie would be shown in theaters. As it was released on the big screens for a limited run, it only opened in eight cinemas in New York and Los Angeles.

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Why Did The Irishman Only Have Limited Theatrical Run?

Since Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman was made for Netflix, the film did not get a wider theatrical release. This was probably another strain for the director, who said that he has experienced his other projects being taken out of cinemas before. He said in the same discussion via THR:

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I’ve been at this like 47 years or something. I’ve had a few films play one or two weeks in a theater and taken out. Including, especially, King of Comedy.”

Netflix The Irishman-2
Netflix’s The Irishman

The reason why it was briefly released on the big screens was because Scorsese requested it. Netflix also wanted the film to be eligible to contend at the Oscars. As per CNBC, there is a requirement to follow for a movie to be permitted:

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ eligibility requirements state that a film must run at least seven consecutive days at a commercial theater in Los Angeles County and be shown at least three times a day, with at least one screening between the hours of 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.”

The Irishman earned ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Despite not taking home any win, it was still a victory for Scorsese.

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RELATED: “They have earned the right”: Iron Man Director Jon Favreau Felt Indebted To Martin Scorsese Despite Latter’s Brutal Criticism Against His Work

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Written by Ariane Cruz

Ariane Cruz, Senior Writer. She has been contributing articles for FandomWire since 2021, mostly covering stories about geek pop culture. With a degree in Communication Arts, she has an in-depth knowledge of print and broadcast journalism. Her other works can also be seen on Screen Rant and CBR.