Fellini Classic ‘La Dolce Vita’ Headed to Blu-ray With New Intro by Martin Scorsese

Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini’s 1960 classic La Dolce Vita will be released on Blu-ray Feb. 8 by Paramount Home Entertainment with a new introduction by director Martin Scorsese, who shares his thoughts on the film and its impact on cinema.

Both a critique of the culture of stardom and a look at the darkness beneath the seductive lifestyles of Rome’s rich, La Dolce Vita follows a notorious celebrity journalist over one crazy week. It stars Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée and Yvonne Furneaux.

The film was restored in 2011 by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory in association with The Film Foundation, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale, Pathé, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Mediaset-Medusa, Paramount Pictures and Cinecittà Luce.

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Scorsese’s ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Coming to 4K Ultra HD Dec. 14

Director Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street arrives on 4K Ultra HD for the first time Dec. 14  from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Scorsese), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jonah Hill) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Terence Winter), the 2013 film earned more than $390 million worldwide.

DiCaprio plays a young, hungry and corrupt stockbroker in the story of Wall Street excess. In addition to Hill, the supporting cast also includes Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner and Jean Dujardin.

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The 4K Ultra HD release features a new film transfer supervised by Scorsese. The disc includes access to a digital copy of the film and previously released bonus content, including “The Wolf Pack,” “Running Wild” and “The Wolf of Wall Street Round Table.”

The Wolf of Wall Street will also be available on 4K Ultra HD in a limited-edition Steelbook.

The Irishman

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 11/24/20;
Criterion;
Drama;
$29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for pervasive language and strong violence.
Stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Stephen Graham, Harvey Keitel.

Lest anyone accuse Martin Scorsese of glamorizing gangsters, he presents The Irishman, a screed against the criminal lifestyle.

The film is based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses, a recounting of the life of mafia hitman Frank Sheeran, the man who claims to have killed Jimmy Hoffa, the union boss whose disappearance in 1975 became one of the 20th century’s great mysteries.

The subject matter is fodder for Scorsese, who assembles a cast of mob-movie all-stars to deliver another highly entertaining trip into the inner workings of the criminal underworld. This includes usual Scorsese collaborators such as Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci (who was coaxed out of retirement to appear). It is somehow also the first teaming of Al Pacino with Scorsese despite both being famously associated with the mafia movie genres.

The film, which earned a slew of Oscar nominations after debuting on Netflix in 2019, is lengthy at three-and-a-half hours, but is briskly paced enough to hold one’s attention. Of course, the nature of home video also allows viewers to pause the movie whenever they want, giving Scorsese plenty of leeway to indulge himself.

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De Niro stars as Sheeran, the ‘Irishman’ of the title, a truck driver who gets drawn into the mafia as an enforcer. He eventually becomes a trusted ally of Teamster president Hoffa (Al Pacino), a friendship that comes to a head when Hoffa’s actions run afoul of the mafia’s leadership.

The extended running time not only allows the audience time to get to know the characters, but it also allows Scorsese to hone in on an aspect of criminal life that wasn’t central to his earlier works in the genre: What happens to the violent gangsters who manage not to get killed and end up growing old? Was their life of crime still worth it once they realize what they had to leave behind to achieve it?

As if to carry the point home, Scorsese makes a point to pause the introductions of several minor characters to display an on-screen graphic describing their fates, which usually involves a horrific, violent death.

On the subject of aging, the film famously made extensive use of de-aging visual effects software in order to allow the elderly stars to play the younger versions of their characters since the film spans several decades. Scorsese in the Blu-ray’s bonus materials says the technology was vital to his deciding to direct the film, as he didn’t want to have to cast younger actors for the earlier scenes and only work with De Niro for half the movie. The results are subtle if not always perfect, but they don’t hamper the effectiveness of the film at all.

Because of the film’s length, Criterion has made the Blu-ray of The Irishman a two-disc set, with the entirety of the movie presented as the only content on the first disc. All the bonus materials are on the second disc and they do a good job of taking viewers behind the scenes of the film. Both discs come in a handsome fold-out slipcover with some beautiful painted artwork of De Niro and Pacino, plus a booklet with an essay about the film.

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In addition to the film’s trailers, the extras include a 36-minute “Making The Irishman” featurette that covers all the aspects of the production.

Film history fans will get a kick out of the 19-minute “Table for Four” featurette, a roundtable conversation between Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci as they discuss their careers and how they came together for this movie.

Also interesting is the 21-and-a-half-minute “Gangsters’ Requiem,” a video essay about the evolution of Scorsese’s career and how his previous works are reflected in The Irishman.

A five-minute “Anatomy of a Scene” video features Scorsese providing commentary on the Frank Sheeran Appreciation Night scene.

The film’s visual effects techniques are expanded upon in the 13-minute “The Evolution of Digital De-Aging as Seen in The Irishman” featurette, which was originally a Netflix promotional piece.

Finally, there are a couple of archival videos that the filmmakers used in re-creating historic events: a six-minute interview with an elderly Sheeran, and a 17-and-a-half minute news profile of Hoffa by David Brinkley in 1963.

Criterion Releasing Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ on Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 24

The Criterion Collection Nov. 24 will release Blu-ray Disc and DVD editions of director Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed mobster epic The Irishman.

The three-and-a-half-hour movie, which earned 10 Oscar nominations but didn’t win any, stars Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran, a former hitman and union truck driver who reflects on his life in organized crime in the mid-20th century, from his involvement with Philadelphia mob boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) to his association with Teamsters union head Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), and the rift that forced him to choose between the two.

The movie arrives on disc a year after its debut on Netflix, sporting a new 4K digital master approved by Scorsese, with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack on the Blu-ray.

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Extras include a newly edited roundtable conversation among Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci originally recorded in 2019; a new documentary about the making of the film; a new video essay written and narrated by film critic Farran Smith Nehme about The Irishman’s synthesis of Scorsese’s singular formal style; “The Evolution of Digital De-aging,” a 2019 program on the visual effects created for the film; archival interview excerpts with Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and International Brotherhood of Teamsters trade union leader Jimmy Hoffa; the film’s trailer and teaser; plus an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien.

Criterion previously released disc versions of Netflix originals Roma and Marriage Story.

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Apple TV+ Inks Movie/TV Production Deal With Martin Scorsese

Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese has signed a production deal with Apple TV+ to create original movies and TV shows for the subscription streaming video-on-demand platform.

Scorsese’s last film, The Irishman for Netflix, was nominated for numerous industry awards without winning anything despite a cast featuring Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro  and Al Pacino.

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The Apple deal, which follows a similar deal with Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio, means Scorsese’s latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon, starring DiCaprio and De Niro, will stream on the platform following a theatrical debut sometime in 2021.

Apple has sought to significantly up its content profile since launching Apple TV+ on Nov. 1, 2019. The $4.99 monthly service has inked separate deals with Idris Elba and Ridley Scott, in addition to deals with Sesame Workshop and Peanuts brands.

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Apple Secures Rights to Next Martin Scorsese Movie

Apple reportedly has taken another major step in Hollywood, securing distribution rights to Martin Scorsese’s next major movie, Killers of the Flower Moon. The former Paramount Pictures title stars Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, among others.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources, reported Flower Moon — about Native American killings in Oklahoma — will be branded an Apple Original Film, with Paramount distributing the $200 million production theatrically and Apple streaming it on its SVOD platform Apple TV+.

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The acquisition follows Apple acquiring the rights to Tom Hanks’ World War II naval drama Greyhound from Sony Pictures.

Scorsese’s last movie, The Irishman, was acquired by Netflix, which marketed the movie staring De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino heavily for industry awards. Despite myriad nominations, Irishman didn’t win a single major award — which some observers contend had much to do with Netflix’s concurrent streaming/theatrical distribution strategy. Major exhibitors have refused to screen Netflix movies in protest.

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Netflix, Apple, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, among others, won’t have to worry about the Academy Awards requirement that a movie be screened theatrically in Los Angeles County for a qualifying run of at least seven consecutive days, during which period screenings must occur at least three times daily.

With Hollywood and movie theaters in shutdown since March due to the coronavirus, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board of governors last month ruled that for the 93rd Academy Awards taking place Feb. 21, 2021, movies that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming or VOD service may qualify in the Best Picture award.

Expect Flower Moon, Greyhound and other streaming feature films to be in the mix for Oscar consideration as the year progresses.

Amazon Prime Video remains the first and only SVOD platform to win an Oscar for an original movie, Manchester by the Sea, taking home best original screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan, who also directed) and best actor (Casey Affleck) honors in 2017. Amazon also picked best foreign-language film distributing Iran’s The Salesman.

Can Netflix’s ‘The Irishman’ Avoid Awards Letdown at 92nd Oscars?

Netflix’s expansive marketing push for Martin Scorsese’ mobster movie, The Irishman, paid dividends Jan. 13 when the film was nominated for 10 of the streaming pioneer’s record-setting 24 Academy Awards nods.

The three-and-a-half hour movie was nominated for Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Al Pacino, Joe Pesci), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, Costume Design and Visual Effects.

Whether the nominations lead to Oscar statues remains to be seen.

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Irishman was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards and Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos walked off empty handed. The film was nominated for nine awards by the Hollywood Critics Association Awards, winning Best Supporting Actor for Pesci.

The movie won Best Acting Ensemble at the Jan. 12 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards while coming up short in 12 other categories.

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Sarandos did get a photo-op with actress Laura Dern, who won again (after the Golden Globes) for Best Supporting Actress in Netflix’s Marriage Story. The movie received six Oscar nominations, including Dern for Actress in a Supporting Role.

Netflix Left $3.6 Billion at the Theatrical Box Office in 2019

Beginning in late 2018 through this year, Netflix has redoubled efforts to produce original feature-length movies in addition to episodic TV series.

At the same time, the SVOD pioneer continues to throw a curve ball into traditional theatrical distribution by largely eschewing exhibitor releases in favor of worldwide streaming access.

The result is friction from theater operators, industry awards groups and a significant hit to the fiscal bottom line.

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Netflix said its most-popular original movies from October 2018 through September 2019 included Bird Box (80 million views), Murder Mystery (73 million), Triple Frontier (52 million), The Perfect Date (48 million) and Tall Girl (41 million).

The streamer said movies such as Fyre, Otherhood, Always Be My Maybe, Secret Obsession and The Highwaymen generated more than 20 million views each within four weeks of release. The list excludes El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (25 million) and The Irishman (40 million).

While 72% of Netflix households have more than one user on the account, when factoring just one view per subscription, the aforementioned movies generated about 394 million views. Netflix ended Q3 with 158 million subscribers worldwide.

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Multiplying the views by $9.11, the average cost of a theatrical movie ticket in 2018, suggests Netflix conservatively left more than $3.58 billion in ticket sales on the table over a film’s initial 30-day period.

That’s just slightly less than Netflix’s entire third-quarter 2018 revenue of $3.9 billion.

While it can be argued that streaming a movie for “free” is more likely an option for consumers than leaving the house and buying a ticket for a non-Marvel release at a cineplex, the data underscores users’ willingness to devote a significant time allotment for video content.

“The thing that’s amazing about that is … think of everything those people could be doing on those screens, and they chose a [Netflix] film,” Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at the streamer, told an industry gathering earlier this month.

Sarandos was talking about The Irishman, Netflix’s 3-and-a-half-hour big-budget gangster movie from director Martin Scorsese that has multiple Golden Globe nominations. “Consumers understand the value of proposition of new movie watching, compared with TV series,” he said.

Scorsese’s most-recent theatrical release, 2016’s Silence, earned just $23.7 million at the global box office against an estimated budget of more than $40 million. But before that, 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street earned $392 million at the worldwide box office, 2011’s Hugo earned $186 million, 2010’s Shutter Island earned $294 million, and 2006’s The Departed generated $291 million. With The Irishman touting a typical Scorsese cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, it’s not unreasonable the film would have attracted moviegoers.

Irishman was released in select indie theaters to be considered for industry awards, including the Oscars.

The Irishman lost a lot of box office,” Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld, said in an interview. “A Scorsese released properly in cinemas would have generated a nice income.”

Indeed, Netflix hasn’t been shy seeking third-party funding for its content aspirations. In October the platform sold more than $2 billion in long-term debt (bonds) in the U.S. and Europe to buttress original content production in response to growing third-party competition, including Disney+.

Sarandos: 40 Million Households to Stream ‘The Irishman’

Netflix’s big-budget mobster movie The Irishman is projected to be streamed in 40 million households through its first 28 days of release.

Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at the SVOD behemoth, disclosed the data during a Dec. 10 presentation at the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York City.

Sarandos said 26.4 million households watched at least 70% of the lengthy (3.5 hours) movie from director Martin Scorsese — a tally he said does not take into account multiple people watching simultaneously under one roof.

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Indeed, Sarandos seemed to imply anyone watching the movie in its entirety should be applauded.

“The thing that’s amazing about that is … think of everything those people could be doing on those screens, and they chose a film,” Sarandos said.

The Irishman generated multiple Golden Globe nominations, with Sarandos characterizing Netflix’s record nomination indicative the streamer’s “mark of quality.”

“Consumers understand the value of proposition of new movie watching, compared with TV series,” he said.

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‘Shutter Island’ Heads to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 11 for 10th Anniversary

Martin Scorsese’s atmospheric thriller Shutter Island will arrive for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Feb. 11 from Paramount Home Entertainment for its 10th anniversary.

The 4K Ultra HD release will be available in a limited collector’s edition steelbook.

Based on the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island follows U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he navigates what appears to be a routine investigation that quickly turns sinister. The film also stars Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Syndow and Michelle Williams.

Special features include the previously released featurettes “Behind the Shutters” and “Into the Lighthouse” on the Blu-ray.

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