I feel like I'm saying this more and more these days, but Netflix is truly changing the game in Hollywood. First, the streaming giant destroyed the traditional method of home video consumption, eliminating stores like Blockbuster and effectively creating a hostile takeover of the industry. Now, the company is setting its sights on the modern theatrical distribution window, which has been slowing dying for the past several years. Starting with House of Cards, Netflix jumped into the original content game, and they're really beginning to cause a stir. While they haven't been as successful as Amazon (who set the bar with their handling of Manchester by the Sea), Netflix has created prime content for television and film, with hit shows like Stranger Things and critically acclaimed movies like Beasts of No Nation. In 2017 alone, Netflix will release I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, as well as Duncan Jones' Mute, Bong Joon-Ho's Okja, Adam Wingard's Death Note, and David Michod's War Machine. These aren't second-tier films- these are cinematic events from major filmmakers. But yesterday, Netflix made a truly groundbreaking deal, one that permanently alters the importance of the theatrical window.
On Tuesday, Indiewire exclusively reported that Martin Scorsese's The Irishman will be headed to Netflix. Yes, the new film from one of the most acclaimed directors of all time is going to be debuting on an online platform. The Irishman, which reunites Scorsese with Robert De Niro, was originally set to be distributed by Paramount in North America, a deal that made sense with the studio's current relationship with the filmmaker. However, many are guessing that the poor box office for Scorsese's Silence may have scared off the studio, especially with The Irishman's $100 million budget. Netflix is mainly attempting to improve its reputation at this point in time, so acquiring the rights to one of Scorsese's most anticipated movies in several years should do the trick. Netflix now has all worldwide rights for the film, which means that upstart distributor STX Entertainment is likely also eliminated from international distribution.
I can't really stress how big this is. Look, if Netflix is going to distribute films from young directors like Jones and Macon Blair, that's a solid fit. But when they acquire the rights to a new project from one of the greatest directors in film history, that's a huge deal. This truly has the potential to open the floodgates for acclaimed filmmakers to have total creative freedom, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more directors like Scorsese move to Netflix. We'll see where this goes from here, but this is a massive, industry-changing development.
The Irishman is rumored to star Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and Bobby Cannavale, and will likely debut on Netflix in 2019.
Image Credits: IMDB