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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Shout Select Releasing ‘Deer Hunter’ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 26

Shout Select, the premium imprint of indie distributor Shout! Factory, will release The Deer Hunter on 4K Ultra HD disc for the first time May 26.

The Deer Hunter: Collector’s Edition two-disc combo pack will present the 1978 Best Picture Oscar winner on both a 4K disc and a regular Blu-ray Disc loaded with bonus features including new interviews with the cast and filmmakers.

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The film follows a group of Pennsylvania steelworkers from their blue-collar lives, hunting in the woods of the Alleghenies, to the hell of the Vietnam War. The cast includes Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, John Savage and Meryl Streep.

In addition to Best Picture, the film won Academy Awards for director Michael Cimino, Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Walken, Best Sound and Best Film Editing.

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Both the 4K and Blu-ray discs will include audio commentary by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and journalist Bob Fisher.

The Blu-ray will also include new interviews with Savage, actress Rutanya Alda, producer Michael Deeley, post-production supervisor Katy Haber and Universal Marketing executive Willette Klausner. Other extras include an interview with film critic David Thomson, deleted and extended scenes, a theatrical trailer, radio spots and a still gallery.

Fans who preorder the combo pack from ShoutFactory.com will also receive an exclusive 18x 24-inch poster, while supplies last.

Joker

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 1/7/20;
Warner;
Drama;
Box Office $333.5 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images.
Stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Bill Camp, Shea Whigham, Marc Maron, Douglas Hodge, Josh Pais, Leigh Gill.

In DC Comics, the Joker has been Batman’s primary nemesis for 80 years, and part of the reason he remains such a fascinating character is the mystery surrounding his origins and motivations.

That isn’t to say that there haven’t been versions of a Joker origin story over the years, most often tailored to a specific story being told. There just hasn’t been a definitive one as clean as his counterpart’s, the boy who grew up to fight crime after the murder of his parents. The tale of the Joker is often messy and contradictory, which only adds to his intrigue and popularity.

With the movie aptly named Joker, director Todd Phillips brings a new interpretation of the character. The script by Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver is mostly a gritty, disturbing character study about what could push a man to reject society and embrace chaos; calling it Joker, as Phillips admits in the bonus materials, just gives comic book fans an excuse to see it.

But that’s not quite a fair assessment, as the story, while not directly adapting any of the myriad source material available, does touch upon several classic elements associated with Joker and Batman from the comics, particularly the notion that all it takes is “one bad day” to push a man over the edge.

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The film is anchored by Joaquin Phoenix’s immersive performance as Arthur Fleck, an anti-social, mentally ill loner and aspiring stand-up comedian who fantasizes about being accepted by a society that has little use for him. The film is set in 1981 in a moody version of Gotham City that threatens to burst at the seams at any moment, as corrupt bureaucrats leave public services underfunded while the wealthiest citizens, including Thomas Wayne, seem to have no interest in alleviating the tension.

While the story takes some violent turns and the film has courted controversy with its disturbing tone and sympathetic portrayal of a homicidal iconoclast, it nonetheless became a massive it. The film’s version of its title character has struck a nerve, becoming something of an anti-establishment champion of the downtrodden.

Phillips himself as even hinted that maybe Fleck isn’t the villain who ultimately confronts Batman, but is more of an inspiration for whomever that may be. But that’s a debate for fans and potentially a sequel that was never intended but may become a reality due to the film’s success.

Even so, there’s no requirement that this version of Joker be tied to any of the other versions of DC characters being displayed on the big screen at the moment. The look and style of the film is heavily inspired by Martin Scorsese crime dramas of the 1970s and ’80s, particularly Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, which is perfectly in line with graphic novels that reimagine characters in different settings, something DC’s Elseworlds imprint did all the time. So, this movie is basically just what if the Joker were a Scorsese antihero.

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The bonus materials for his initial home video release of Joker are somewhat sparse given its impact. The primary extra is “Joker: Vision & Fury,” a pretty good 22-and-a-half-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that includes interviews with many of the filmmakers and cast discussing how they sought to present their distinct vision of the character and his circumstances.

The other three featurettes are short highlight reels. “Becoming Joker” is a minute-and-a-half montage of Phoenix test footage; “Please Welcome … Joker!” is a nearly three-minute compilation of alternate takes of Joker’s entrance onto the late-night talk show that plays a central role in the story; and “Joker: A Chronicle of Chaos” is little more than a three-minute slideshow of photos from the movie.

A commentary with Phillips is available exclusively through copies of the film on iTunes, which owners of the Blu-ray can access as a result of the Movies Anywhere redemption code included with the disc.

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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Netflix’s ‘Irishman’ Skipping Major Theatrical Run

Netflix’s big budget original movie The Irishman reportedly will not have a major theatrical run upon its November release.

The Martin Scorsese-directed gangster movie features multiple Oscar winners, including Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, among others.

Netflix is eyeing the film for major industry awards, which require a theatrical screening to be considered for nomination.

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The SVOD pioneer continues to maintain a business model that makes original movies available for streaming concurrent with any theatrical run.

To abide by the rules, Netflix has offered The Irishman to theaters for an exclusive 27-day window ahead of streaming, beginning Nov. 1.

But major chains such as AMC, Regal and Landmark insist they have exclusive rights to any theatrical release for 90 days.

As a result, Netflix will screen the film at select indie theaters nationwide — a path the service took when debuting  last year’s Oscar-winning movie Roma from director Alfonso Cuaron.

 

Netflix’s ‘The Irishman’ Gets Global Debut at London Film Festival

The BFI London Film Festival scored a coup of sorts Aug. 5 when it announced that the upcoming 63rd edition would play host to the global debut of Netflix original feature film The Irishman from director Martin Scorsese.

Netflix — contrary to the SVOD’s feature-film policy releasing titles in theaters and streaming concurrently — is rolling out the mega-budget movie in select theaters first to appease industry awards such as the Academy Awards as well as Oscar-winner Scorsese.

Irishman, which will be screened Oct. 13 at the festival’s “Closing Night Gala,” stars Academy Award winners Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, among others.

The screening apparently precedes a previously-announced Irishman debut at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 14.

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Netflix has not yet announced the streaming release for the film.

The BFI London Film Festival also announced that there would be simultaneous preview screenings taking place at cinemas across the UK.

Re-uniting Scorsese with his Gangs of New York screenwriter Steve Zaillian, who adapted from Charles Brandt’s novel I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman examines the influence of organized crime in post-war America.

The story is told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a hustler and hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious figures of the 20th Century.

Spanning decades, the film chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history, the disappearance of infamous Union President Jimmy Hoffa, and offers a monumental journey through the hidden corridors of organized crime: its inner workings, rivalries and connections to mainstream politics.

“I’m extremely honored to be having the International Premiere of The Irishman at the closing night of the BFI London Film Festival,” Scorsese said in a statement. “This picture was many years in the making. It’s a project that Robert De Niro and I started talking about a long time ago, and we wanted to make it the way it needed to be made. It’s also a picture that all of us could only have made at this point in our lives.”

Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Director hailed Scorsese as “one of the true greats of cinema” as both a creator and champion of film preservation and history.

“This is a major occasion for film lovers and I cannot wait to share this film with U.K.,” Tuttle said.

Netflix Releases ‘The Irishman’ Movie Trailer

Netflix July 31 released the official movie trailer for its much-hyped mob feature film The Irishman, directed by Martin Scorsese, and starring fellow Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, among others.

The period drama, which will debut at the upcoming New York Film Festival, boasts Netflix’s willingness to spend big (reported $160 million budget) and initially release the movie theatrically (ahead of streaming) to appease industry award guidelines.

The plot centers around World War II veteran and mob hitman Frank Sheeran (De Niro) and his relationship with former labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975 and was declared dead in absentia in 1982.

When the movie, which also features Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin and Ray Romano, will be released at the box office has not been disclosed.

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Netflix: Sunday Viewing Down 32% Due to Super Bowl

Netflix often says major televised events such as the Olympics and soccer World Cup negatively impact streaming viewership. On Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 3), the SVOD pioneer confirmed that nationwide viewership on the platform was down 32% compared to a normal Sunday.

“So apparently this Super Bowl thing is kind of big deal,” Netflix tweeted.

Resolute in a programming strategy that eschews live sports, Netflix spent the afternoon poking fun at the Super Bowl while also using the largest one-day televised event of the year to market “Our Planet,” the upcoming original documentary on natural habitats narrated by David Attenborough. All episodes will be released on April 5.

Amazon Prime Video and Hulu bowed trailers for original dramas “Hanna” and the third season of Emmy-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale,” respectively.

“Someone actually scored a touchdown!?!?!” Netflix tweeted after New England Patriots rookie running back Sony Michel scored the game’s only touchdown, breaking a 3-3 tie in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 for their sixth Super Bowl win.

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While Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was named Super Bowl LIII MVP for a game-high 10 catches for 141 yards, Netflix quickly tweeted a picture of a cute fury creature from “Our Planet,” wading through the snow.

“I think we can all agree this the night’s real MVP?” wrote the service.

Many Netflix viewers on Twitter would have preferred the trailer to season three of “Stranger Things,” among other original programs.

“Excuse me, I just watched a three-hour football game to see a trailer I didn’t get,” tweeted one viewer.

“You disappointed us,” tweeted another.

Still another tweeted: “The real MVP could have been a trailer for The Irishman.”

The tweet was in reference to the highly anticipated Netflix original mobster movie starring Goodfellas alumni Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Bobby Cannavale, among others.

The 2019 movie is directed by Martin Scorsese with a reported $140 million — $200 million budget — the highest ever for Netflix.

 

 

 

Billy Wilder’s ‘The Apartment,’ Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Serpent’s Egg,’ De Niro-De Palma Teamings Highlight December Disc Releases from Arrow and MVD

Films from Billy Wilder, Ingmar Bergman, Robert De Niro and Brian De Palma are among the December Blu-ray releases coming from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

Up first on Dec. 4 is The Serpent’s Egg from director Ingmar Bergman, who teamed with Italian director Dino De Laurentiis. In this mystery, David Carradine stars as an out-of-work circus performer that gets caught up in a tangled web when he begins to ask questions about his brother’s bizarre death. Special features include audio commentary with Carradine; “Bergman’s Egg,” a newly filmed appreciation by critic and author Barry Forshaw; “Away From Home,” an archival featurette including interviews with Carradine and Liv Ullman; “German Expressionism,” an archival interview with author Marc Gervais; a stills gallery; a theatrical trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring two artwork choices; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Geoffrey Macnab.

Due Dec. 11 is the boxed set “De Palma & De Niro: The Early Films,” showcasing Robert De Niro on the big screen for the first time and highlighting the beginnings of his relationship with director Brian De Palma. The set includes three films from the duo — The Wedding PartyGreetings and Hi, Mom! — all of which have been newly restored. Special features include new commentary on Greetings by Glenn Kenny, author of Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor; a new appreciation of Brian De Palma and Robert De Niro’s collaborations by critic and filmmaker Howard S. Berger; a new interview with Charles Hirsch, writer-producer of Greetings and Hi, Mom!; a new interview with actor Gerrit Graham on Greetings, Hi, Mom! and his other collaborations with Brian De Palma; a new interview with actor Peter Maloney on Hi, Mom!; the Hi, Mom! theatrical trailer; newly commissioned artwork by Matthew Griffin; a limited collector’s edition booklet featuring new writing on the films by Brad Stevens, Chris Dumas and Christina Newland; and an archive interview with De Palma and Hirsch.

The ‘80s slasher film Bloody Birthday is due Dec. 18 with a new 2K restoration. In the Ed Hunt-directed film, a trio born on the same solar eclipse develop a habit for murdering adults. Special features include a new audio commentary with Hunt; a new interview with actress Lori Lethin; “Bad Seeds and Body Counts,” a new video appreciation of Bloody Birthday and the killer kid sub-genre by film journalist Chris Alexander; a archival interview with producer Max Rosenberg; the original theatrical trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Timothy Pittides; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Lee Gambin.

Coming from Arrow Academy Dec. 11 is the classic comedy The Apartment, directed by Billy Wilder and starring Jack Lemmon. The film, which took home five Academy Awards including Best Picture, features a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative produced exclusively for this release. Special features include audio commentary with film producer and historian Bruce Block; “The Key to the Apartment,” a new appreciation of the film by film historian Philip Kemp; select scene commentary by Philip Kemp; “The Flawed Couple,” a new video essay by filmmaker David Cairns on the collaborations between Wilder and Lemmon; “A Letter to Castro,” a new interview with actress Hope Holiday; “The Writer Speaks: Billy Wilder,” an archival interview from the Writers Guild of America’s Oral Histories series; “Inside the Apartment,” a half-hour making-of featurette from 2007 including interviews with Shirley MacLaine, executive producer Walter Mirisch and others; “Magic Time: The Art of Jack Lemmon,” an archive profile of the actor from 2007; a theatrical trailer; and a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ignatius Fitzpatrick.