Entertainment

Martin Scorsese's The Irishman gets limited theatrical release from Netflix

Netflix will show The Irishman exclusively in theatres about four weeks ahead of its debut on the streaming service, but those interested in watching Martin Scorsese's big-budget gangster epic on the big screen might have to search a bit harder to find a cinema screening it. 

Shortened theatrical window also set for movies starring Meryl Streep, Eddie Murphy, Scarlett Johansson

Al Pacino, centre left, and Robert De Niro, centre right, appear in a scene from The Irishman, Martin Scorsese's much anticipated new gangster drama. (Netflix)

Netflix will show The Irishman exclusively in theatres about four weeks ahead of its debut on the streaming service, but those interested in watching Martin Scorsese's big-budget gangster epic on the big screen might have to search a bit harder to find a cinema screening it. 

Netflix announced on Tuesday that The Irishman will open theatrically Nov. 1 and begin streaming on Nov. 27.

The Irishman, which includes extensive de-aging visual effects to make its star-studded cast — including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci — appear decades younger in some scenes has reportedly cost close to $200 million US to make. The film, about hitman and Jimmy Hoffa associate Frank Sheeran, will open the New York Film Festival on Sept. 27.

Because of the film's pedigree, theatre owners had lobbied Netflix to give The Irishman a traditional, wide release.

The Irishman is described as a decades-spanning saga of organized crime in post-war America, told through the eyes of Second World War veteran, hustler and hitman Frank Sheeran, played by Robert De Niro. (Netflix)

The policy of the major theatre chains, including AMC, Cinemark and Canada's largest chain Cineplex, is to refuse to play movies that don't adhere to the standard 90-day exclusivity window. CBC News has reached out to Cineplex for comment.

Netflix instead has said the film will be released in "select" theatres.

The release plans for one of Netflix's most expensive films yet had been a subject of much conjecture ever since the steaming service greenlit Scorsese's crime epic. The director is one of the most ardent proponents of cinema preservation, but Scorsese earlier told The Associated Press that he signed up with Netflix without any condition of a theatrical release.

Roma's award-winning precedent

Last fall, Netflix began releasing certain titles in theatres first, beginning with Alfonso Cuaron's Roma, the Coen brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and the Sandra Bullock thriller Bird Box

This fall, they will expand that strategy to more films and, in some cases, elongate theatrical runs to about four weeks.

Alfonso Cuaron poses with the three Oscars he won for Roma, his acclaimed drama made with Netflix. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press)

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences earlier this year contemplated a new rule stipulating a four-week exclusive run in theatres before ultimately deciding not to amend their rules for next year's Oscars.

On its way to several Academy Award wins, Roma played solely in theatres for just over three weeks.

Steven Soderbergh's Panama Papers satire The Laundromat, with Meryl Streep, will open Sept. 27 in U.S. theatres and premiere Oct. 18 on Netflix. The Eddie Murphy-led Dolemite Is My Name will hit theatres Oct. 4 and begin streaming three weeks later.

David Michôd's Shakespeare adaptation The King, with Timothée Chalamet as Henry V, will play theatrically Oct. 11 and debut on Netflix Nov. 1. Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story, starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, will open Nov. 6 and land on Netflix Dec. 6. The Two Popes, with Jonathan Pryce playing Pope Francis and Anthony Hopkins as his predecessor, Pope Benedict, will open Nov. 27 before a Dec. 20 Netflix premiere.

All of the above titles will make their premieres at the fall's top film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival, in the coming weeks.

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