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 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.

Despite Record Noms, Netflix Wins Just Two Oscars

Entering the 92nd Annual Academy Awards, Feb. 9 in Los Angeles, Netflix had a record 24 nominations — more than any Hollywood studio.

In what has become a recurring theme during this year’s industry awards, the SVOD pioneer left the Oscars relatively empty handed. Laura Dern again walked off with a Best Supporting Actress statue for Marriage Story, while American Factory, about a Chinese businessman re-opening a manufacturing facility in Ohio, won for best documentary. The film was produced by former U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama’s production company.

Netflix won best documentary in 2018 with anti-doping cycling-themed Icarus.

But The Irishman, Netflix’s big-budget mobster movie from director Martin Scorsese and starring Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, failed to win an award despite 10 nominations. Netflix spent a reported $70 million promoting Irishman for the awards season.

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With a major push into original features, Netflix, like Amazon Prime Video, has taken on Hollywood, spending lavishly on productions and securing A-list talent. It has also — unlike Amazon — rebuffed industry norms when it comes to theatrical distribution.

CCO Ted Sarandos has made it a signature ploy releasing original movies in theaters concurrent with global streaming access. The strategy has angered exhibitors and traditionalists — with the former largely shunning Netflix movies.

In 2019, Netflix original movie Roma won an Oscar for best director (Alfonso Cuarón), best foreign film and best cinematography but lost for best picture. The streamer’s first original movie, Beasts of No Nation, was critically hailed, but ignored by the Academy.

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Despite the slights, Sarandos dismisses possible industry blowback toward the streamer’s feature films as speculation.

“A pushback? Nobody can say that with a straight face,” he told the New York Times. “We got 24 nominations, the most of any studio. Our films have been honored across the board.”

Indeed they have. But with South Korea’s Parasite making history as the first foreign-language film to win best picture, Universal Pictures was sure to give the film a traditional theatrical window — generating about $35 million in North America. It has grossed $167.6 million worldwide, becoming South Korea’s biggest box office hit.

Sarandos: Awards, Movie Marketing Drives Netflix Viewership

Netflix is again spending millions marketing select movies (The Irishman, Marriage Story, etc.) for industry acclaim, including the upcoming Academy Awards on Feb. 9.

While Irishman has generated much of the media attention and nominations, Marriage Story has taken home the awards hardware, notably for supporting actress Laura Dern.

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Speaking on a pre-recorded fiscal interview Jan. 21, chief content officer Ted Sarandos wouldn’t disclose how much the company is spending on awards marketing, but suffice to say the dollar amount has grown in recent years.

Netflix generated 34 Golden Globes Awards nominations, including 17 for movies. Netflix earned 24 nominations for the 92nd Oscars — topping all other studios and media companies. Martin Scorsese’s Irishman generated 10 noms, Marriage Story, 6, The Two Popes, 3, and Klaus is up for best animated feature film.

Netflix spent $2 billion marketing movies and TV shows in 2018, which included industry awards. The service spent $15 billion on original content in 2019.

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“It’s how we’re choosing to bring the incremental spending to the table in terms of the bigger breadth and scale of films,” Sarandos said, adding that the marketing increase hasn’t been at the expense of original TV series, including adding 130 local language series worldwide.

“So to me, I look at [marketing spend] as the growth — the benefit to the business is the growth [in viewership],” he said.

 

Platforms Avoid Netflix Movies in Pre-Oscar Showcases

Netflix earned an impressive 24 Oscar nominations ahead of the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9 — largely around two movies: Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.

Walmart-owned Vudu.com and exhibitors Cinemark, AMC Theatres and Regal Cinema have launched pre-Oscar events showcasing best picture nominated films — with the exception of Netflix’s titles.

That’s because Netflix — per longstanding policy — does not abide by Hollywood’s traditional theatrical release strategy affording exhibitors exclusive 90-day access. Instead, the streamer mandates all original movies be made available across all distribution channels (including theatrical) at the same time.

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This has angered exhibitors and industry insiders domestically and abroad (i.e. Cannes Film Festival) for years — the result being Netflix movies are largely ignored by major theater chains.

Indeed, Cinemark’s “Annual Oscar Movie Week Festival,” which runs from Feb. 3 to 9, enables consumers (for $35) to screen all nominated films — with the exception of Netflix’s titles. Vudu is taking preorders for Oscar-nominated titles, with the exception of The Irishman and Marriage Story (which have not been slated for a digital sellthrough release).

“I don’t see the utility of making a film available on VOD or in theaters, if it’s available for free to anyone with a subscription or trial account at Netflix,” said Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter. “Netflix would rather people sign up for a free trial and watch these films than it would care for the 50% to 65% it might earn from a movie ticket or VOD.”

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Last year, Netflix’s first Oscar nominated best picture title, Roma, was also ignored by major exhibitors. It went on to win for best director (Alfonso Cuarón) and best foreign-language film (Mexico’s first) — but no best picture. The movie reportedly generated about $200,000 in revenue from pre-nomination screenings over the extended Thanksgiving weekend at select indie theaters in Los Angeles.

The imbroglio made headlines when director Steven Spielberg suggested movies that forgo the traditional theatrical run should not be considered for Oscars. The Academy’s annual board of governors post-Oscar meeting nixed that idea.

Netflix responded (on Twitter) at the time stressing “we love cinema” and ubiquitous distribution. “These things are not mutually exclusive,” the streamer tweeted.

While Roma did become Netflix’s first film to be included in The Criterion Collection on Blu-ray Disc and DVD (due Feb. 11), it arguably left millions of dollars in box office revenue on the table.

“If Netflix wants to really be a movie company, and not just a highly successful television company, why won’t they consider the traditional movie business model?,” John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theater Operators, wrote in a 2018 blog post. “Wouldn’t Netflix make more money and establish a much deeper cultural conversation by offering a true and robust theatrical run first, and offering exclusive streaming to its subscribers later?”

 

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.

‘Joker,’ ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,’ ‘1917,’ Netflix’s ‘The Irishman’ Pace Oscar Race

A couple of Netflix originals joined a handful of studio films, a gritty comic book movie and a critically acclaimed competitor from South Korea in the race for Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards, as announced the morning of Jan. 13.

Netflix’s The Irishman and Marriage Story were among the nine films nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Netflix also earned Best Animated Feature nomination for Klaus and I Lost My Body, plus a Best Documentary Feature nom for American Factory from the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions.

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The Irishman earned 10 nominations. In addition to Best Picture, it will contend for Best Director for Martin Scorsese, Best Supporting Actor for Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects and Best Costume Design.

Marriage Story earned a total of six nominations. It is also up for Best Actor for Adam Driver, Best Actress for Scarlett Johansson, Best Supporting Actress for Laura Dern, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Original Score for Randy Newman.

Johansson was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Jojo Rabbit.

Warner’s Joker led all films with 11 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix, Best Director for Todd Phillips, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Costume Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Film Editing, Cinematography, and Makeup and Hairstyling. The film is available now on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digitally.

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood also earned 10 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt, Cinematography, Costume Design, Production Design, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. The film is available now on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digitally from Sony Pictures.

Universal’s 1917, which was the No. 1 film at the box office the weekend of Jan. 10-12, also earned 10 nominations, including Best Picture, Director for Sam Mendes, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, and Makeup and Hairstyling.

Other Best Picture nominees include Ford v Ferrari, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, and South Korea’s Parasite.

Ford v Ferrari will be released through digital retailers Jan. 28, and on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 11 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. It also earned nominations for Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

Parasite, which is also up for Best International Feature Film (formerly Best Foreign-Language Film) among its six noms, will be released through digital retailers Jan. 14, and on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 28 from Universal. It is also contending for Best Director for Bong Joon Ho, Original Screenplay, Film Editing and Production Design.

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In addition to Klaus and the French film I Lost My Body, nominees for Best Animated Feature include Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4, Fox’s Missing Link. The latter three are all available now on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally.

The top-grossing film and top-selling home video of 2019, Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame, distributed by Disney, earned a single nomination, for Best Visual Effects.

Composer John Williams earned his 52nd Oscar nomination, for Best Original Score for Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The film is also up for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing.

The winners will be announced Feb. 9 on ABC. A full list of nominees is available here.

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.