With its dominance in television already secured, the Netflix streaming service has been branching out to narrative features in recent years, with films such as Beasts of No Nation and the upcoming Bright, which released its first trailer during the Oscars this weekend. The streaming service has now made another bold move to acquire a highly-anticipated film, director Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which reunites silver screen legends Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Netflix reportedly shelled out $105 million for the global rights to this film, which is eyeing a 2019 release on Netflix that would come day-and-date with an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run.
IndieWire broke this story as the film continues its work in pre-production, which was previously set up at Paramount Pictures. Martin Scorsese still has a first-look production deal with Paramount Pictures that runs through 2019. Paramount also sold off the international rights to The Irishman for $50 million to STX Entertainment at the Cannes Film Festival, while New Media Asia, which secured the Chinese distribution rights, is likely also out, as Netflix moves to acquire all world rights, as they’ve been accustomed to do in the past.
The story is based on the life of mafia hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (Robert De Niro), who is best known for his possible involvement in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, who will be played in the movie by Al Pacino. This report also reveals that Robert De Niro will be “de-aged” to appear like he’s 30 years old again by Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), using the technology from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Steven Zaillian (Gold) wrote the adapted screenplay for The Irishman, based on the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt. This package with Netflix came together as Paramount chairman Brad Grey is planning his exit. Here’s what an unnamed source had to say about moving The Irishman to Netflix.
“Scorsese’s movie is a risky deal, and Paramount is not in the position to take risks. This way, he can make the project he wants.”
The supporting cast also includes Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino, a Sicilian-born crime lord who at one point ran the entire East Coast mob for the Cosa Nostra organization, and Harvey Keitel as another Sicilian mafia boss, Angelo Bruno. Bobby Cannavale has also come aboard to play New York City gangster Joe Gallo, who The Irishman confessed to killing on his deathbed. Throughout his entire career as a Mafia hitman, he kept this part of his life a secret from his family, only confessing to his crimes in the final five years of his life to writer Charles Brandt, who was a former prosecutor. Frank Sheeran passed away at 83 years of age in 2003, just six weeks after he read Charles Brandt’s manuscript for The Irishman, which was first published a year later in 2004.
This movie will be the ninth collaboration between Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese, but surprisingly, this will be the first time both Al Pacino and Martin Scorsese have worked together. This also marks the third time Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have worked together, following the 1995 classic Heat and the 2008 film Righteous Kill. With pre-production under way on The Irishman, it remains to be seen when filming actually gets under way. However, if Netflix is in fact aiming at a late 2019 date, the streaming service may be taking its time with this project.