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.