Netflix is refusing to play by the rules yet again. Stymied by the big theater chains, the streamer has booked Broadway’s Belasco Theatre for its November 1 opening of Martin Scorsese’s epic “The Irishman” for one of several New York theatrical dates. The three-and-a-half-hour mafia drama starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, which grabbed kudos when it opened the New York FIlm Festival, will play at the Shubert Organization’s historic midtown theater through December 1.
Netflix will install state-of-the-art film equipment for this first-ever movie showing in the 1,016-seat theater. Since the Belasco’s opening in 1907 its storied stage plays include “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Oh! Calcutta!,” “American Buffalo,” and most recently “Network.” Moving into the theater after “The Irishman” will be Conor McPherson’s Bob Dylan musical “Girl from the North Country,” which starts previews in February.
As befits a Broadway presentation, “The Irishman” will show eight times a week — Tuesday through Saturday nights, with matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Tickets are $15, plus processing fees. Broadway is enjoying a boom year and New Yorkers will likely flock to this opportunity to see a 209-minute movie without intermission from Little Italy’s own Scorsese, even if the seats may not offer the same comfort level as many contemporary cinemas.
“We’ve lost so many wonderful theaters in New York City in recent years, including single-house theaters like the Ziegfeld and the Paris,” Scorsese said in a statement. “The opportunity to recreate that singular experience at the historic Belasco Theatre is incredibly exciting. Ted Sarandos, Scott Stuber, and their team at Netflix have continued to find creative ways to make this picture a special event for audiences and I’m thankful for their innovation and commitment.”
Indeed. Netflix’s marketing team is growing more sophisticated about turning the streamer’s premium awards-bound features into must-see events via festival showings and big-screen theatrical runs. As is always the case with Netflix Original features, “The Irishman” will head to streaming on November 27 shortly after its initial theatrical date.
This is the first announcement of theaters showing “The Irishman.” Netflix has been courting exhibitors, but has been met with resistance from the top national and regional theater chains. It remains to be seen how many chains are willing to book Netflix’s robust fall slate, even though circuit AMC often arranges rental dates for films that don’t hold to the 90-day exclusive window. Netflix four-walls many of their indie theater bookings and will continue to find dates from circuits like Landmark, Alamo Drafthouse, and other independents that previously played “Roma,” “The Laundromat,” and this week’s “Dolemite Is My Name.”
But these efforts are piecemeal and leave some significant cities and towns around the country uncovered. With “The Irishman” earning great reviews amid heavy awards talk for Scorsese, De Niro, Pesci and Pacino, the expectation is that if theaters can be found, audiences will come.
New York is a key location for reaching Oscar voters. Los Angeles also offers a variety of possibilities, including theaters that played “Roma” for weeks. Not playing “Roma” was the Arclight Theater in Hollywood, which would seem ideal for “The Irishman,” along with Westwood’s The Landmark. Arclight has theaters in the area as well as other cities nationally, and has in the past gone against the National Association of Theater Owners’ preferred policy of not playing films that violate windows. But so far, that does not extend to Netflix.
It’s likely that Arclight will stick with the chains’ collective refusal to play Netflix. While the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood is still negotiating with Netflix for future investment, renovation and involvement, there is no deal in place and if it does go through, Netflix would not use the Egyptian for theatrical bookings but for premieres and promotional events. “Dolemite is My Name” played there last week as part of a film festival.
Could renting a stage theatre allow Netflix to finally break into France, where “Roma” was barred from playing a single cinema? The Belasco marks a throwback to the beginning of the industry, when in 1915 Epoch Producing Corporation searched for large auditoriums for the hordes of moviegoers eager to see Hollywood’s first blockbuster, D.W. Griffith’s controversial “The Birth of a Nation.” A film historian like Scorsese appreciates the irony of returning to exhibition’s roots just as the viewing experience keeps evolving.
Netflix's The Irishman is headed to Broadway. No, not some musical version or star-studded stage play, but the actual Martin Scorsese film starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.
From Nov. 1 to Dec. 1, The Irishman will screen at the Shubert Organization's historic Belasco Theatre, mimicking the standard Broadway schedule of eight performances per week Tuesday through Sunday evenings, with matinees on Saturday and Sunday; as is traditional on Broadway, the theater will be dark on Mondays, with no screenings.
The unusual arrangement — hailed by the preservation-minded Scorsese as a way to showcase his film in the type of ornate theater in which New Yorkers could once routinely view films — will be the first film screening ever in the Belasco's 112-year history the theater was an NBC studio for several years in the early 1950s. Netflix will provide what it describes as state-of-the-art equipment for the screenings.
Belasco Theatre Courtesy Shubert Archive
“We've lost so many wonderful theaters in New York City in recent years, including single house theaters like the Ziegfeld and the Paris,” Scorsese said in a statement. “The opportunity to recreate that singular experience at the historic Belasco Theatre is incredibly exciting.”
Scorsese also expressed gratitude to Ted Sarandos, Scott Stuber, and their Netflix team for finding “creative ways to make this picture a special event for audiences and I'm thankful for their innovation and commitment.”
The Irishman launches on Netflix Nov. 27, but will get a prior theatrical release — in addition to the Belasco showings — to meet Oscar eligibility rules.
“It's an immense honor for The Irishman to be welcomed to the Belasco,” said Stuber, head of Netflix Film, “an iconic and historic landmark fit for Scorsese's latest cinematic achievement.”
The booking arrives at a convenient time for the intimate, 1,018-seat, neo-Georgian structure on W. 44th Street in Manhattan's theater district. The Belasco's most recent tenant, Ivo van Hove's limited-run Network starring Bryan Cranston, closed June 8. The next announced theatrical tenant is Girl From The North Country, the acclaimed musical written and directed by Conor McPherson, with a score of “reimagined” Bob Dylan songs, that played a sold-out run last fall at the Off Broadway Public Theater.
Previews of Girl From The North Country begin at the Belasco Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, with opening night set for Thursday, March 5.
The Irishman marks a return of sorts to the Belasco for Pacino, who won the first of his two Tony Awards at the theater for his 1969 Broadway debut in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie? His second Tony came in 1977 for The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel.
Others associated with The Irishman have Broadway connections as well: Scorsese directed the 1977 Liza Minnelli musical The Act; De Niro starred in 1986's Cuba and His Teddy Bear in 1986 and directed, with Jerry Zaks, A Bronx Tale The Musical in 2016; Harvey Keitel starred in 1984's Hurlyburly and 1975's Death of a Salesman; and Bobby Cannavale's various Broadway credits include, most recently, last season's The Lifespan of a Fact, co-starring Daniel Radcliffe and Cherry Jones.
Tickets for The Irishman at the Belasco will be priced at $15, on sale next week.
The BBC is poised to set out plans for a massive reinvention of iPlayer, the pioneering streaming service it launched in the same year as Netflix went live, and punch back in the fight for British talent.
At an event in London on Monday evening, director general Tony Hall and content chief Charlotte Moore will set out the BBC’s vision to turn iPlayer into a “total TV” service, serving personalized content to audiences, including live events, box-sets, and all of the broadcaster’s television stations.
They will say that the BBC is now removing the burdens of regulation after it got the greenlight to extend iPlayer’s catch-up window for new shows from 30 days to 12 months. This longer viewing window will be at the heart of the revamp, which the BBC says will be the biggest since iPlayer launched in 2007.
The BBC is pitching the new look as a direct response to the invasion of Netflix, Amazon, Apple and other U.S. media giants, which Hall referred to as a “second wave of disruption” during a speech last month. It will play up iPlayer as a human-curated platform, rather than being moderated by machines.
During the event on Monday, the BBC will also tackle, head-on, the trend for U.S. streamers scooping up British talent on huge overall deals, like Peter Morgan signing up with Netflix last week. Hall and Moore will say that the broadcaster can’t compete with the tens of millions of dollars being thrown at creative talent, but it can offer creative freedom, free from focus groups and algorithms, and a bigger shop window on TV and audio.
At the event, Hall will say: “iPlayer is a great service. But it can and will be even better. The BBC's combination of backing great and different ideas, alongside a complete reinvention of iPlayer, will mean a unique service that will be of huge benefit to the public. It will be a new front door for British creativity.”
Moore will add: “iPlayer will become the heart of everything we do; the gateway to all our programs — a 'total TV' experience which will bring everything you want from BBC television into one place for the first time.
“There's something else that makes our vision for iPlayer unique and special. In fact it's the vital thing. It's curated. We're talking about a cutting edge tech platform, run by humans. Because in a world of so much content and choice, a dynamic curated offering will become more and more important to people and will set the BBC apart.”
According to the BBC, iPlayer had a record seven days in the final week of September, racking up 90M program requests. And crucially for the BBC, which is competing with young viewers with Netflix and YouTube, the number of people under-35 iPlayer is reaching has gone up by more than a third in the past year.
1. “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” available October 11
Why Should I Watch? How can you not watch? After delivering one of the few widely beloved series finales ever and then following it up with an improbably successful prequel series, Vince Gilligan has decided to continue the “Breaking Bad” story through its sole surviving character, Jesse Pinkman.
Aaron Paul was always game to come back to the role, teasing cameos on “Better Call Saul” for years, and now the world will see if a new movie — er, sorry, a new “Netflix Television Event” can recapture the magic that captivated TV viewers and Emmy voters for five enthralling seasons.
Whether it turns out as excellent as its predecessors or as terrible as our worst nightmares, “El Camino” is still a must-watch.
Bonus Reason: Written and directed by Gilligan, “El Camino” is also an invitation to see how “Breaking Bad” works in a new format. This is a one-off movie, not an ongoing series. The drug saga that came before was built on addiction — a runaway train of momentum careening forward until Walter White Bryan Cranston ran out of track.
“El Camino” is a shorter ride; an epilogue for Jesse Pinkman; a complete arc in two hours instead of 62. What will Gilligan do with the time? Compress a similar thriller, or explore a whole new genre through his old, established character?
No matter what, it will be exciting to find out.
2. “Big Mouth” Season 3 available now
Why Should I Watch? “Big Mouth” is really, really great. It's Emmy-nominated, Gotham Award-nominated, and endorsed by critics across-the-board. It's got a cast of excellent comedians, from co-creator Nick Kroll to John Mulaney, Jenny Slate, Jessi Klein, Maya Rudolph, Jason Mantzoukas, and Andrew Rannells. It's got great original music, colorful, inventive animation, and the writing keeps things moving at a clip guaranteed to hold your attention. If you've yet to discover “Big Mouth,” you're in for one helluva binge this month.
Bonus Reason: With “BoJack Horseman” ending this season, the adult animation landscape is losing a titan — which means it's all the more critical that “Big Mouth” sticks around, grows in audience awareness, and otherwise gets the attention it deserves. Luckily, Netflix has renewed it for three more seasons. Even better, Season 3 shows no dip in quality, so this Netflix original is ready to pick up the departing show's slack.
3. “Raising Dion” Season 1 available now
Ja'Siah Young in “Raising Dion”
Why Should I Watch? Based on Dennis Liu's 2015 comic book and short film, the new Netflix original series brings Michael B. Jordan back to the world of grounded superhero dramas. Sure, he blew the roof off the place with “Black Panther,” but years prior Jordan was a supporting star in Josh Trank's breakout sci-fi hit, “Chronicle” — and while “Raising Dion” isn't made with “found footage,” it is about a young man gaining superpowers and learning how to use them for the better. Ja'Siah Young plays Dion, a boy still recovering from the death of his father Jordan, while his mother, Nicole Alisha Wainwright, is between jobs. “Raising Dion” focuses more on Nicole and Dion than anyone else — relegating Jordan to guest star duty — but it tells a family-friendly mystery filled with missing people, suspicious corporations, and, lest you think it's totally off the rails, a mother-son relationship with respect for their specific reality. Plus, Jordan executive produces, so it's not like he's ever really gone.
Bonus Reason: By now, Jason Ritter has charmed you in one show or another. Whether it was “Parenthood,” “Drunk History,” “Gravity Falls,” “Another Period,” or God help you, “The Tale,” John Ritter's affable son has proven himself a versatile character actor and serves a welcome supporting role here, as Dion's generous, always-available godfather. Even if you were hoping to see Michael B. Jordan in every episode, Ritter will quickly alleviate any disappointment.
4. “Living With Yourself” Season 1 available October 18
Paul Rudd and Paul Rudd in “Living With Yourself”
Why Should I Watch? How much do you like Paul Rudd? Enough that you've ever wished there were two of him? Well, Netflix got your message and is giving you two for the price of Rudd. “Living With Yourself” focuses on Miles Rudd, a marketing executive stuck in a rut — his work bores him, he's going through the motions with his wife, and he's generally unfulfilled. So he takes a big risk and invests a chunk of change in a company that promises to deliver a new and improved version of Miles, no matter what. Well, things don't go exactly as planned, and suddenly he finds himself in a fight for everything he was taking for granted. A comedy unafraid to ask big questions, “Living With Yourself” brings you all sides of Rudd in neat half-hour chunks.
Bonus Reason: Created by “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” scribe Timothy Greenberg, “Living With Yourself” is also directed and executive produced by “Little Miss Sunshine” helmers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Just imagining the amiable comic stylings of Mr. Paul Rudd mixed with the creative spirit behind “Ruby Sparks” is all the motivation we need to push play.
5. “Schitt's Creek” Season 5 available October 10
Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara in “Schitt's Creek”
Why Should I Watch? Does the name “Schitt's Creek” sound extra familiar? Sure, it's part of a very common phrase involving a paddle and, presumably, a raft of some kind, but “ Schitt's” with the added “c” and “t” should look a little shinier right now because the PopTV comedy was recently nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards — stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara earned lead acting accolades while the series itself fought its way into a very competitive Best Comedy field. Did anyone win? No, but the Emmys are often a war of attrition: first you're nominated, then you're nominated more, then you win. Consider Phase One complete.
Bonus Reason: Now the bad news: “Schitt's Creek” doesn't have time for a three-phase Emmy plan because it's ending next season! But don't fret. All that means is more people like you, if you're still reading need to hop on the bandwagon and enjoy this charming treasure of a family comedy while it's still fresh. Check out Season 5 when it's released on Netflix, and get ready for Season 6 win it debuts in January 2020. You get to enjoy quite a few episodes packed with wonderful comedy, plus you'll be ready to see the end the same way the biggest fans do: as it rolls out. Throw in an Emmy win or two for “Schitt's Creek” in 2020, and it's a win-win-win.
6. “The Kominsky Method” Season 2 available October 25
Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin in “The Kominsky Method”
Why Should I Watch? Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin remain the primary draw for this Netflix original about an aging acting coach and his aging manager. The two share a solid repartee in Season 1 — the kind of ol' buddy back-and-forth that could spark even brighter as they spend more time together. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you'll find plenty to enjoy in this Hollywood-set comedy.
Bonus Reason: Chuck Lorre got a taste of the awards race last year, when his first pseudo-serious comedy aka dramedy, aka non-single-cam CBS show snagged the sitcom veteran a Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series and the show won another for Douglas as the lead actor. But despite three nominations at the Emmys, Lorre himself couldn't crack the race — perhaps that will motivate him to dive deeper, get funnier, and find some real gosh darn truth in this casual study of old men wishing they were young again — if only so they could pee freely. Oh, and Season 2 features Paul Reiser and Jane Seymour. They're very nice.
7. “Daybreak” Season 1 available October 24
Sophie Simnett and Matthew Broderick in “Daybreak”
Why Should I Watch? I'm legally obligated to mention, if not outright recommend, anything that features Matthew Broderick playing some sort of school official. Sure, “Election” is a fantastic series, and yes, “The Politician” borrowed from the best just a bit last month, but Broderick himself is also having quite a moment: His last four TV roles have been on “BoJack Horseman,” “The Conners” opposite the great Laurie Metcalf, which is important, “At Home With Amy Sedaris,” and “Better Things” — so this post-apocalyptic teen comedy about the survivors of a high school post-nuclear blast, well, it could be a big swing and a miss. But with Broderick's hot streak on the line, we're willing to give it a shot.
Bonus Reason: The official Netflix synopsis describes “Daybreak” as “part samurai saga, part endearing coming-of-age story, and part Battle Royale.” I don't know about you, but that's an enticingly strange combination of genres, and the desert-like atmosphere seen in the first trailer also evoke the wild energy of “Mad Max.” So let's give this weird little show a shot, and watch to see if the selected tribe of survivors are worth rooting for — or against.
The Rest of Incoming TV
“My Next Guest with David Letterman and Shah Rukh Khan” TBA “Carmen Sandiego” Season 2 available now “Bring It On, Ghost” Season 1 available now “Cheese in the Trap” Season 1 available now “Chicago Typewriter” Season 1 available now “Signal” Season 1 available now “Tomorrow with You” available now “Tunnel” Season 1 available now “Living Undocumented” available now “Rotten” Season 2 available now “Creeped Out” Season 2 available now “Peaky Blinders” Season 5 available now “Super Monsters” Season 3 available now “Legend Quest: Masters of Myth” Season 1 available now “Rhythm + Flow” Season 1 available October 9 “Haunted” Season 2 available October 11 “Insatiable” Season 2 available October 11 “Plan Coeur” Season 2 available October 11 “YooHoo to the Rescue” Season 2 available October 11 “Baby” Season 2 available October 18 “Interior Design Masters” available October 18 “The House of Flowers” Season 2 available October 18 “MeatEater” Season 8 available October 18 “Tell Me Who I Am” Season 1 available October 18 “Toon” Seasons 1-2 available October 18 “Unnatural Selection” available October 18 “Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner” available October 23 “Daybreak” Season 1 available October 24 “Brotherhood” Season 1 available October 25 “Greenhouse Academy” Season 3 available October 25 “Prank Encounters” available October 25 “Shine on with Reese” Season 1 available October 28 “Nowhere Man” Season 1 available October 31
Netflix signaled that they had no intention of slowing their investment in top-tier talent in the final panel of The Contenders – London, which featured four of the festival season's most popular attractions.
In the first panel, Andreas Wiseman spoke to director David Michôd and composer Nicholas Britell about The King, which stars Timothée Chalamet as the young Henry V, who becomes King of England in the 15th century after his brother’s death. Michôd credited his co-writer Joel Edgerton, who also appears in the film as Falstaff, with inspiring him to look again at the story made famous in two of Shakespeare's best-known history plays.
“I’ve known Joel for many years,” said Michôd. “We live two minutes’ walk from each other in Sydney and we spend a lot of time together. I didn’t know him back then, but when he was fresh out of drama school, he played Hal on stage in Henry IV and Henry V. It was a much-talked-about performance, and it was very important in his early career, as well as being a very creative experience for him.
“And when he came to me and said, ‘How do you feel about tackling Henry V, I thought, ‘That’s a terrible idea.’ But then, y’know, I was immediately drawn—as so often happens— to the challenge of doing something that I wouldn’t necessarily feel was up my alley. So then we just jumped in. We made the decision very early on to push Shakespeare aside and build our own thing.”
Joe Utichi then took to the stage to discuss The Two Popes with director Fernando Meirelles and screenwriter Anthony McCarten. A two-hander, the film depicts life inside the Vatican's walls, as Pope Benedict Anthony Hopkins and the future Pope Francis Jonathan Pryce try to find common ground in order to forge a new path for the Catholic Church and take the papacy forward.
A past hand at fact-based drama, McCarten had recent awards success with The Theory of Everything, Darkest Hour, and Bohemian Rhapsody, and told Utichi that he sees The Two Popes as part of that same continuum. “The challenge with any dramatization of a real event is to speculate on those moments that no one’s privy to,” he said, “and this is a constant in all the biopics I’ve done. In this case, it was, I guess, more adventurous. What I did honor is that their stated positions are well known on various subjects. They happen to be diametrically opposed on many, many issues, so it enabled a real dialectic between these two, between an ultra-conservative and a progressive. And my hope with this film is that whether you care about Catholicism or don’t, whether you’re angry at it or not, that it speaks to a more general conversation society can have between conservatives' and progressives' intractable positions. Can we find a common ground?”
Common ground is also the subject of Noah Baumbach's hot fall title, Marriage Story, in which Adam Driver's marriage to Scarlett Johannson falls spectacularly apart. Ironically, the project began as a love story, as the director told Deadline's Peter White in front of a panel that included producer David Heyman and the film's co-stars Laura Dern and Ray Liotta. “For a while now,” said Baumbach, “I’ve been wanting to make a love story and I just didn’t know how to find my way into it, in a way that felt electric or new to me. And, and so weirdly it was in telling the story of divorce [that I found my angle]. I'd explored that before in a different way, from the kids’ perspective in The Squid and the Whale, but this one is more from the, from the adult perspective. I found that it was an opportunity to explore marriage and love while chronicling its undoing.”
The panel closed with a surprise clip from Martin Scorsese's true-life mob drama The Irishman, introduced by Anna Paquin, who plays Peggy, the daughter of Robert De Niro's hitman character, Frank Sheeran. “I think Peggy, in very real way, is sort of the audience’s eyes, or conventional morality’s eyes, looking into the world that we’re telling the story of. She is literally the only person in Frank's life that sees him for the dangerous, frightening human that he is and she isn’t just enjoying the perks of being a mobster’s kid. She's sort of the moral compass.”
The streaming wars have officially begun, even before Disney+ actually gets off the ground. With a plethora of forthcoming streaming services from NBC, Disney and others adding to the already lengthy list of streaming options from Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.
Disney is serious about attracting subscribers to the service with a hefty lineup of Disney, Marvel and Star Wars properties, some of which are being taken from existing streaming services. That’s created some animosity between options fighting for streaming dollars from customers, and it also included some streaming services and where they can advertise.
According to the Wall Street Journal and later confirmed by Vulture, Disney has changed its mind about letting other streaming services advertise on Disney+. The company had originally said no one was allowed to do so, but now it’s just one service that won’t make the cut: Netflix.
ABC Entertainment boss Karey Burke hinted at the move in August, when she told reporters gathered at the TV Critics Association press tour that network ad inventory was still valuable and off-limits to the Netflixes of the world. “Competing streamers want to advertise on our air — we just won’t let them,” Burke said.
But as the Wall Street Journal was first to report Friday, and Vulture has confirmed, Disney’s policy has evolved: Now, only Netflix is banned.
As Vulture’s Josef Adalian explains, the reason isn’t anything Netflix did but what it doesn’t do: run ads that Disney+ can use to advertise its own services.
A person familiar with Disney’s thinking says the reason Amazon, Apple, and other media companies with streaming platforms are still welcomed as advertisers is because those companies have other relationships with Disney, including ways for Disney to advertise with them. Apple, for example, sells advertising on its Apple News platform, while Amazon has a huge ad division. Netflix quite famously does not do advertising. As a result, Disney decided it no longer wanted to help Netflix in its bid to attract more subscribers and get its current subscribers to watch more Netflix.
Disney apparently does not extend this ban to ESPN, which will have its premium streaming service packaged with Disney+ later this year. But it is an interesting quirk in the growing streaming wars. There are always rumors that Netflix may finally relent and include ads, so this may change. But for now only Netflix is locked out of the ad pool.