The Belasco Theatre on Broadway makes unprecedented move by hosting the public film debut of Netflix’s ‘The Irishman’ for 30 days in November, 2019.


Martin Scorcese’s latest Netflix film, The Irishman, has all the makings of a major motion-picture knockout hit, except for one major thing: the recognition of an Oscar nomination. The Academy Awards require that the production to have a prime-time public cinema debut, with actual paying customers in order to be nominated for an Oscar. ‘The Irishman’ will actually use a vacant Broadway theatre to get through this requirement because the major movie theaters had refuse to show the movie. The Shubert Organization owns the Belasco Theatre on West 44th st in NYC and will show the movie for the entire month of November. The public showing will run from November 1st to December 1st, 2019. 'The Irishman' screening will occur every night at 8pm, for a price of $15 a ticket.

Broadway Theatre Hosts Movie Debut For The First Time

Broadway is known for its top-tier talent, theatrical experience and its long history of live performances, but movies have rarely been part of that. While Broadway theatres have had their fair share of movie screenings in the distant past, this is the first film to ever screen in The Belasco Theatre’s 112 year-old history. This is the first traditional movie debut ever to take place on the Great White Way.

'The Irishman' Features Star Studded Cast

'The Irishman' is an American crime film that was directed and produced by the Academy, Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning filmmaker, Martin Scorsese. The movie is based on the real-life memoir ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’, written by the former NYC homicide prosecutor and chief investigator, Charles Brandt, who penned the auto-biography in 2004. Production for the film began in September 2017 in New York City, and finished in March of 2018. The film had a budget of over $159 million, which made it one of the most expensive movies of Scorsese's entire career. The film stars Robert De Niro as the main character Frank Sheeran 'The Irishman'. Al Pacino and Joe Pesci also are in other leading roles. The story follows a mob hitman and World War II vet who served in Italy in the United States Army, and is now an old man reflecting on his life’s decisions. During the movie, Sheeran reflects on his career, as a hired hitman, and what part he played in the disappearance of the union labor leader, Jimmy Hoffa.

This movie was not the first time that this director and these actors and have worked together. This is the ninth feature film collaboration between Scorsese and De Niro, with their last work being in Casino in 1995, which is also when De Niro and Pesci last worked together. This is the fourth feature film production to cast both Pacino and De Niro together. Their first being The Godfather Part II (1974), where they did not actually appear in any scenes together and their most recent previous movie collaboration being Righteous Kill in 2008.

Robert De Niro on the Belasco Theatre Marquee
Robert De Niro on Broadway's Belasco Theatre Marquee

Booking The Vacancy At The Belasco

The Belasco Theatre is currently empty, as the Broadway show Network closed on June 8th, 2019 and the Girl From the North Country is set to begin its previews on February 7th, 2020, creating an empty theatre for an eight month period. This is not the first time that a Broadway theatre has been dark for a protracted length of time, as it is often a strategy of Broadway theatre landlords to starve playwrights of suitable venues to increase their own leverage in negotiations against playwrights and producers. With so many shows trying to get onto Broadway it is astounding how often Broadway theatres will remain empty for extended periods.

Where Else Will The Movie Be Playing?

‘The Irishman’ had its world premiere at the 57th New York Film Festival on September 27, 2019 and will have its international premiere on the Closing Night Gala at the BFI London Film Festival on October 13, 2019. Netflix will release the movie on their digital streaming platform, starting on November 27th, 2019, for all Netflix subscribers.

The Belasco Theatre on Broadway will not be the only place showing the movie to the public during that time period, as New York City’s own IFC Center movie theatre, located at 323 6th Ave, will also be playing the film. At the IFC, the movie opens on the same day as the Belasco Theatre, Friday, November 1st, and plays 6-7 times a day until Thursday November 7th, 2019. These showings will be at the same price as The Belasco Theatre. ‘The Irishman’ will not play at any movie theaters owned by Cinemark, Cineplex, or AMC Regal because they have all denied Netflix’s four-week showing request and they insist on their standard eight-week showing contract, before the movie is released for home viewing.

Why Is Broadway Seizing This Opportunity?

New York City has recently lost some great movie theaters including the Ziegfeld and The Paris. In this fast paced, short attention span generation, Netflix needs to get their films out on their home streaming service, as quickly as possible or millennials will likely forget about it. Because of this, Netflix usually bi-passes the traditional eight-week cinema showings that other film companies are used to. This time, Netflix thinks that they have made a film that is Oscar worthy and they need a cinema theatre debut, in order to get their Oscar nomination. Because Netflix so is hard set on their four-week showing, to be able to offer the movie on their service over Christmas, no regular movie theaters chains will carry it. As the major chains had not agreed to this proposition, Netflix had to look somewhere else. and they found it on Broadway. That is when they reached out in desperation to the Broadway theatre landlords, and lucky for them, one theatre was able to accept their uncommon, four-week request to screen the film. Netflix is greatly subsidizing the costs for the movie showings, in order to make this public debut happen. Netflix does not want to charge people more than the standard rate of $15 for the movie, which is considerably less than the typical Broadway ticket which sells for well over $100. Netflix is paying the difference, so they can rent out the theatre for the whole month. The Belasco Theatre landlord, The Shubert Organization, is getting a guaranteed payment and will potentially get an entirely different demographic coming through their doors than they usually get to come into their theatre for Broadway shows. They will also get a boat-load of data on the movie attendees from Netflix, so the whole thing is a grand experiment for everyone and the Shubert Organization is expected to share the data with no one.