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 Reportedly Eyeing Content Budget Restraint

With Netflix’s fiscal second-quarter ended June 30, the SVOD pioneer reportedly is re-evaluating its prolific content spending.

The service, which ended Q1 with $18.9 billion in third-party content obligations, spent more than $12 billion on original content in 2018 — a fiscal largess senior management is now scrutinizing.

CCO Ted Sarandos in June reportedly held a meeting with mid-level managers with a revised mandate that spending on original content should be commensurate with viewership — especially among new subscribers and long-time inactive members, according to The Information, which cited people at the meeting.

Netflix heretofore has eschewed spending restraint in favor of content’s social media buzz and establishing industry legitimacy.

“They are the leading game in town and were probably overspending relative to what they need,” analyst Michael Nathanson with MoffettNathanson told the website. “Now that they are in a strong position, they probably want to allocate more of that spending overseas.”

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The service in recent years has blown up industry norms outspending/bidding over-the-top competitors and traditional pay-TV players for content and exclusive license agreements.

With domestic sub growth maturing and a bevy of pending OTT video services launching from deep-pocket competitors such as Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia and NBC Universal, among others, Netflix now wants original programming to pay for itself — a challenge for a business model that shuns advertising, the theatrical window and transactional VOD.

Sarandos, according to The Information, was at odds with the reported $115 million spent on Triple Frontier, the original action movie with Ben Affleck and Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”) that apparently didn’t resonate with subscribers — or the service’s bottom line.

In fiscal 2018, Netflix generated negative cash flow of $3 billion on revenue of $16 billion — a figure projected to increase to $3.5 billion in fiscal 2019 — much of it due to content spending.

“There’s been no change to our content budgets, nor any big shifts in the sorts of projects we’re investing in, or the way we greenlight them,” said a Netflix spokesperson.

Meanwhile, pending original movie The Irishman, from director Martin Scorsese has a reported budget of $150 million. With Netflix eyeing the mob thriller for next year’s industry awards, the service will have to compromise on its concurrent theatrical/streaming release mandate, says Michael Pachter with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

“We expect Netflix and exhibitors to reach an accommodation where there will be a shortened window in exchange for lower film rent,” Pachter wrote in a July 1 note.

A typical film earns 83% of its box office within four weeks, and 96% within 60 days, which Pachter believes could soften exhibitors’ revenue loss to around 3% as the result of a shortened theatrical window to appease Netflix’s business model.

“We think that if studios or platforms like Netflix are willing to trade film rent for an earlier window, the negative impact on exhibition would be limited particularly for films well-suited for the big screen,” Pachter wrote. “The Irishman may fit the bill.”

Netflix reports Q2 fiscal results July 17.

Report: Netflix Movies Skipping Cannes Film Festival

Netflix reportedly won’t have any film entries in the 2019 Cannes Film Festival May 14-25 in Cannes, France, despite efforts by the subscription streaming video pioneer and event organizers to hammer out a truce in their ongoing theatrical window feud.

Netflix executives Ted Sarandos and Scott Stuber apparently found no compromise after recently meeting with Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux in Los Angeles regarding the SVOD service’s insistence on streaming its original movies day-and-date with any theatrical release, according to Variety — which cited a source familiar with the situation.

The standoff last year resulted in Netflix bypassing Cannes and submitting original movie Roma to the Venice Film Festival where it won the top Golden Lion award.

While industry politics generate the headlines, Variety reports that Netflix didn’t have a movie ready for the March 11 deadline for official feature length film submissions to the 72nd Cannes Festival.

Fremaux apparently had hopes for Netflix mob movie,The Irishman, from director Martin Scorsese, being submitted to the competition. Regardless, Netflix reps will be at Cannes scouting out indie content to acquire.

Separately, actor Kevin Costner, whose next film, The Highwaymen, begins streaming on Netflix March 29, believes movies should have a theatrical release if possible.

“I think movies are for theaters, and as long as they can stay in them,” Costner said at last week’s SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

The actor said over-the-top video represents a new way for people to consume movies and distribution channel for the industry to fight over.

“The sand shifting, I haven’t thought about that as much as I’ve thought about the next movie I’m gonna do, or the next story I’m gonna write,” Costner said.

Netflix & Co. Push Back in Post-Oscar Theatrical Window Dispute

The Academy Awards may be over, but that hasn’t stopped the controversy surrounding Netflix’s 10 Oscar nominations (and three wins) for original movie Roma, whose release didn’t adhere to the traditional 90-day theatrical window.

Netflix, per chief content officer Ted Sarandos’ longstanding pledge to release movies globally via streaming concurrent with theatrical distribution, has run afoul of exhibitors and industry awards.

Director Steven Spielberg, a senior member of the Academy board, is reportedly looking to have Netflix’s movies bypassed for future consideration unless the service honors the window. Spielberg believes Netflix’s films should be reserved for TV-based Emmy Awards.

“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation,” a spokesperson from Spielberg’s Amblin production company told CNBC. “He’ll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting].”

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British exhibitor Cineworld – the second-largest chain in the world – withdrew its support for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts after the organization awarded Roma with its Best Film honor.

Netflix, March 3 in a social media post, reiterated its support for theatrical distribution – and streaming.

“We love cinema. Here are some things we also love:

Access for people who can’t always afford or live in towns without theaters. Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time. Giving filmmakers more ways to share art.

These things are not mutually exclusive.”

Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay (13th) whose upcoming documentary about the Central Park Five – When They See Us– begins streaming on Netflix in May, defended the service’s strategy.

DuVernay contends the SVOD pioneer affords lower profile films wider distribution through streaming than is available theatrically.

“This is a Board of Governors meeting,” DuVernay said in a tweet directed to board members. “And regular branch members can’t be there. But I hope … that you’ll have filmmakers in the room or read statements from directors like me who feel differently.”

Netflix’s next big Awards movie – The Irishman – from director Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, among others, begins streaming later this year.

 

 

 

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.