The Irishman – Scorsese supporting Netflix?

Netflix VS Hollywood – what’s it all about?

Since the controversy at Cannes Film Festival in 2018, a distinct divide has curtained between Netflix and Hollywood. Due to Netflix being a streaming service that does not (usually) offer theatrical release, the head of Cannes banned Netflix films from being eligible for the Palme d’Or. Theirry Fremaux stated “The intransigence of [Netflix] own model is now opposite of ours.” ‘Ours’ meaning the Hollywood system, through which features circuit theatrical release before being available to purchase at home.

Other service-providers, such as Amazon Prime, are also perpetuating the idea of ‘TV movies’ taking over cinema. Things such as Netflix Originals have almost begun to take the form of TV shows in terms of aesthetic, tone and distribution. The interactive film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (dir. David Slade, 2018), as part of the Black Mirror series, not only morphs television and film together but video games too.

Who exactly is against Netflix?

Despite uproar over Cannes, from movie buffs and filmmakers alike (especially independent filmmakers who use the platform as a means for finance and distribution), many prestigious directors have sided with Cannes somewhat pretentious views. Such as Steven Spielberg and Christopher Nolan.

This is not at all surprising, of course. Controversy is bound stir with the dramatic shift cinema has taken toward home-streaming, chiefly among those accustomed to the Hollywood formula. A notoriously stern stance against Netflix was taken by Spielberg last year, saying “I don’t believe that films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theatres for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.” The alarm industry members are showing seem to stem from the notion that streaming platforms will effectively destroy physical movie theatres, which Spielberg argues “need to be around forever.”

Steven Spielberg

Distinguished director Christopher Nolan also made light of his concerns against streaming models, noting that “Netflix has a bizarre aversion to supporting theatrical films,” and that “they have this mindless policy of everything having to be simultaneously streamed and released, which is obviously an untenable model for theatrical presentation.” The lack of theatrical release appears to be the key issue that many old-school filmmakers are having, debating that films without such distribution should not be nominated for established awards as they threaten the extinction of cinema.

But does every filmmaker feel this way?

Scorsese to release on Netflix

World-renowned director Martin Scorsese has recently announced his collaboration with Netflix for the new film The Irishman, due to release autumn 2019. After Netflix’s Roma soared with critics, esteemed Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron won the Oscar for Best Director and Best Foreign Language Film in February 2019. Clearly, not every filmmaker shares this aversion to Netflix and Amazon.

In his ninth collaboration with Robert De Niro, The Irishman will follow a labour union leader and alleged hit man in an adaption of Charles Brant’s 2003 book I Heard You Paint Houses. The Irishman will also star Al Pacino and is supposedly Scorsese’s most expensive project yet.

Paramount released the teaser trailer for The Irishman early 2019, but instead of the credits simply ending with the Netflix logo, a theatrical release was also confirmed. Though not the typical distribution process, Scorsese has combined the methods of Netflix streaming with the traditional Hollywood structure. Netflix negotiated a middle ground with Scorsese, agreeing to stream the movie whilst permitting a limited release in bigger, established venues.

So, has Scorsese found a way to cheat the system? Or simply shown how the battle between Netflix and Hollywood has taken away the focus from what’s really important- the films themselves.

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