LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Martin Scorcese’s “The Irishman” is already being called one of the year’s best movies even though it just hit the big screen Friday night, but the film starring Oscar winners Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci will only play in select theaters across the country — before moving to Netflix.
The lack of theaters did not stop fans in Los Angeles, though. Lines to get into the 7:30 showing of the film at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood stretched down the sidewalk — and all Friday showings were sold out.
The Egyptian is one of only four Los Angeles theaters showing the film, and only for a limited time. In four weeks, the movie will be streaming exclusively on Netflix.
“It’s Scorcese, I think any film made by a filmmaker of that caliber needs to be seen on the big screen,” Bobby Castro, who saw the movie Friday. “Netflix will never replace that.”
And for most fans, seeing a film like this in a theater is part of the experience, but critic Leonard Maltin said streaming services making movies, even with a limited theater run, was a sign of the times — and a good one at that.
“At least three major year-end releases that might not have happened at all without their funding,” he said. “‘The Two Popes’ is their movie, and ‘Marriage Story’ is their movie — and these are major Oscar contenders — along with ‘The Irishman.'”
For Maltin, the onus for the lack of distribution was on theater owners for not accepting new ways viewers consume media.
“It’s the theater owners who are refusing to book it because they’re at war with Netflix and streaming services,” he said. “So really they’re the ones who are creating the impediment to people in other cities to get to see this film in a movie theater.”
And while viewers in select cities across the nation will be able to see the film on the big screen, even more will get to enjoy the movie from the comfort of their own home.
“I do appreciate that you can watch it on Netflix,” Erik Veenhuis, who saw the movie while visiting L.A., said. “I’m originally from Michigan, so we didn’t get a lot of these movies.”