Netflix's 'The Irishman' comes on strong in Hollywood's pre-awards season

Xinhua
"The Irishman" leapt out of the gate in Hollywood's pre-awards season, racking up two "Best Film of the Year" selections.
Xinhua

"The Irishman" leapt out of the gate in Hollywood's pre-awards season, racking up two "Best Film of the Year" selections by the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle, two of the most prestigious film critic organizations in the United States.

The NBR also named the "The Irishman" script with its insider view of the criminal underworld spanning decades, penned by Steven Zailian, as "Best Adapted Screenplay of the Year."

This has kicked the Oscar buzz for the film into high gear, with many news outlets already predicting a "Best Picture Academy" nomination for the Netflix streamer.

When asked at Variety's Innovate Summit this week about what he would do if "The Irishman" won the "Best Picture," Scott Stuber, Netflix's head of film, said, "If that happens, I will be cheering and crying and running around like crazy!"

"The Emmy, the Oscar, these awards are the indicators of what is great, so you want to be there for that exact reason," Stuber said.

"The Irishman," starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Anna Paquin and Joe Pesci, premiered on Nov. 27 on the streaming service after a 26-day exclusive theatrical window in cinemas in the United States and overseas.

The film, directed by academy award-winning director Martin Scorsese, arguably Hollywood's finest living director, is Netflix's biggest gamble to date. Clocking in at an estimated budget of US$160 million to 175 million, this mobster epic is one of the most expensive dramas ever made, trailing another sticker-shock film, James Cameron's "Titanic."

In a world now measured in 280-character tweets and 30-second videos, it seems astonishing that a 3.5-hour epic could be made, let alone on a bigger budget than any of Scorsese's pictures to date.

"When you make a movie at that price level, you want to spend your money on the best people doing the best version of what they do," Stuber told Xinhua. "And Marty (Scorsese) is the best at what he does."

Nielsen, which runs a leading audience measurement system in the world, estimated that the film was watched by 17.1 million Netflix viewers in the United States during its first five days of streaming, a figure Netflix has yet to corroborate.

"You will see more numbers from us, more transparency, more articulation of what's working and what's not," Stuber said. "We're not hiding anything. I just want it to be articulated correctly to protect the filmmaker and protect the movie."

He explained that, for their unique business model, it is important to find the right hybrid of theatrical and online streaming.

"We are about a week into 'The Irishman' and we are well on our way to being very happy on that one and thrilled with its performance so far," Stuber said.

Nielsen pegged "The Irishman" audience as skewing toward older men, premiering with an estimated 20 percent of viewers being men between 50 to 64, with younger viewers dialing in after its initial five-day run.

Variety's Owen Gleiberman described the film as "a coldly enthralling, long-form knockout - a majestic mob epic with ice in its veins."


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