Remember when hiring Martin Scorsese to direct a Robert De Niro movie was the kind of risk studios took all the time? Netflix does! IndieWire reports that Netflix has acquired Martin Scorsese project The Irishman. The film, an adaptation of Charles Brandt’s book I Heard You Paint Houses in which De Niro will play mob hitman Frank Sheeran, had been set up at Paramount but reportedly became too risky now that chairman Brad Grey is leaving.
The Irishman will be the first collaboration between Scorsese and De Niro since 1995’s Casino, if you don’t count their 2015 ad for Macau Studio City Casino The Audition. (You probably shouldn’t.) To play Sheeran in his younger years, De Niro will be digitally de-aged, hopefully with more lifelike results than Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy.
It was inevitable that Netflix would eventually produce the kind of A-list, prestige project that was long the exclusive domain of major studios, but it’s still a shock it they got Scorsese, whose well-known love of 35 mm doesn’t seem to jibe with a streaming service. Still, it’s been a long time since Scorsese films have been released on 35 mm, regardless of how they were shot—The Wolf of Wall Street, a Paramount movie, was the first major studio film to be distributed entirely digitally. Netflix didn’t comment on the deal, but it’s done small theatrical releases for projects like Beasts of No Nation, so it might send The Irishman to a few theaters in major cities. But if you live in a small town, you may never get the chance to see the new Scorsese in a movie theater.
Upcoming films from Paramount include Baywatch, Ghost in the Shell, and Transformers: The Last Knight.