Friday, May 24, 2024

The End of Theaters? “The Irishman” Opens Tomorrow in Less Than Half the US, One Theater Only in Most Places, Concentration in New York and Los Angeles


Is it the beginning of the end for movie theaters?

Tomorrow, Netflix opens Martin Scorsese’s epic “The Irishman” — highly touted for the Academy Awards — in just a handful of theaters. And even in those places, “The Irishman” will end its run in 27 days.

In the old days, “The Irishman” would have opened eventually in 3,000 screens, starting with the Ziegfeld here in New York. The Ziegfeld is now a party space.

Netflix, a streaming service, couldn’t make deals with theater chains. The chains didn’t want to take in a movie that would almost immediately be available at home. “The Irishman” is not Netflix’s only awards film this season. They have “Two Popes,” “Marriage Story,” and “Dolemite is My Name.” The latter is pretty much not anywhere except for one small theater I found in Chicago.

Of the 50 United States, 27 will not get “The Irishman” at all. A handful of others– Connecticut, Louisiana, Montana — will show the movie in 1 theater for the whole state. A few lucky states– New York, California, Florida — have a half dozen sites. In New York, “The Irishman” opens at the Belasco, a Broadway house on West 44th St. The other two locations are the Landmark 57, which is on the border of New York and California, and the IFC Waverly downtown, known for independent films.

Scorsese has said that only Netflix would fund “The Irishman” for $140 million. The large price tag was due to the new process used for “de-aging” the actors so he could tell the story of Jimmy Hoffa along different timelines. The movie has a 99 rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Most who’ve seen it agree, “The Irishman” is a masterpiece. But it may become the first masterpiece not to be seen by most people on movie screens but at home. And that’s more of a tragedy than Jimmy Hoffa’s mysterious death.

Here’s a list of theaters showing The Irishman between now and November 27th. The distribution pattern doesn’t even make sense to me. A lot of hip college areas, like Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon aren’t getting it. Small indie chains like Alamo Drafthouse and iPic don’t have it, either.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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