With Brad Grey’s exit from Paramount expected to become official any minute now, the studio wasted no time in letting Martin Scorsese’s pricy gangster movie THE IRISHMAN find a new home at Netflix, which is nearing a deal for the Robert De Niro-led film, the Tracking Board has confirmed.
Netflix had no comment.
De Niro is set to star as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a family man who led a double life as a hitman for the mob and had at least 25 murders to his name. Before he died in 2003, he confessed to having been involved with the killing of Jimmy Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975.
While only De Niro’s deal is done at this point, the ensemble is also expected to feature Al Pacino as Russell Bufalino, the head of the Pennsylvania mafia who treated Sheeran like a son and was rumored to have been the inspiration for Marlon Brando’s Don Corleone in The Godfather; Joe Pesci as Bill Bufalino, a well-connected Teamster lawyer with no relation to Russell; Bobby Cannavale as a low-level mobster named Skinny Razor; and possibly Harvey Keitel as none other than Jimmy Hoffa, the head of the Teamsters union.
Scorsese’s fellow Oscar winner Steve Zaillian wrote the script, which is based on Charles Brandt’s 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa. The title refers to mob shorthand for the blood-spattered walls left behind after a hit.
The Irishman carries a hefty nine-figure budget (which has ballooned of late) due to Scorsese’s plan to use visual effects to de-age De Niro, and possibly Pesci as well. While the project carries plenty of prestige given its Oscar-winning elements, it’s understandable why Paramount was willing to let it go. The studio released Scorsese’s last film, Silence, which tanked at the domestic box office, and it’s not really in a position to take big risks.
Still, many film fans are excited for what will mark the ninth collaboration between Scorsese and De Niro, who started out working together on 1973’s Mean Streets but haven’t shared a set since the 1995 masterpiece Casino. The duo are producing The Irishman with De Niro’s Tribeca Productions partner Jane Rosenthal, as well as Irwin Winkler.
It remains unclear what will become of the previously reported international deals for The Irishman, as STX ponied up $50 million for international rights outside of North America and China. Netflix is a company that prefers to acquire worldwide rights, so the streaming service may buy out other distributors.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief