Notoriously secluded to its streaming service — save a few theaters in New York City and Los Angeles — Netflix will be releasing a movie in theaters as Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman" will be making a debut in the Coastal Empire at the Tybee Post Theater over Thanksgiving weekend.
The film, which stars Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, has gained attention for its $100 million production budget as well as the extensive de-aging technology used on the three main actors. Based on the book by Charles Brandt, "I Heard You Paint Houses," the film follows Frank Sheeran (played by DeNiro), who is a truck driver that becomes a hitman for mobster Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and his crime family, which includes working for Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). The movie also stars Ray Romano, Anna Paquin and Harvey Keitel.Get Savannah arts and culture news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and Dine newsletters
The three-day run at the Tybee Post marks the first time the streaming service has allowed one of its films to play at a theater in the Savannah-area — something Tybee Post Theater executive director Melissa Turner said came from just asking.
"It was a matter of just talking to Netflix...and they said sure," Turner said. She added that a lot of the multiplex theaters in the area didn't attempt to give the movie a theatrical run and the set-up at the Tybee Post was perfect for the accommodations Netflix was looking for. "They want to get it in front of audiences and they want you to see it on a big screen," she said.
The lobbying from major theater chains didn't come from ignoring the film though. According to The New York Times, major theatrical chains such as Regal and AMC negotiated with Netflix to run the film, but the streaming service balked at the 72-day period of exclusivity (where the movie wouldn't appear on their streaming service) that the theaters required. Instead, Netflix followed a more bloated model of what the company did with last year's Oscar-winning hit, "Roma," where they released the Spanish-language film in "roughly 1,100 screens around the world," according to the Times. Turner said the release at the Tybee Post made sense as they don't have the room to allow movies to play for 14-day runs as they also house musical acts and other performances. Instead, the theater will run the movie exclusively for a weekend, making audience see the release as appointment viewing.
"This business model for showing movies has worked for us," Turner said.
The screening of "The Irishman" in theaters comes weeks after Scorsese made comments about the current state of the theatrical experience, directly at Marvel Studios movies, which he said were "not cinema." In an op-ed for the The New York Times, Scorsese said "they seem to be closer to theme parks than they are to movies as I've known and loved them throughout my life." The comments made by the acclaimed director sparked debate over the value of these movies and the moviegoing experience in general.
Either way, the Tybee Post is happy to house the movie. "We are very lucky that we were able to get ('The Irishman')," Turner said. "(Netflix) was happy to do it." Turner added that she hopes audiences will turn up for the return of Scorsese, Pacino, DeNiro and Pesci together as it opens the door to more Netflix features in the future.
"The Irishman" will be available on Netflix on Nov. 27, but will have a three-day run at the Tybee Post Theater starting on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 29 at 3 and 7 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 30 at 3 and 7 p.m.