The (unofficial) numbers are in for The Irishman. The latest from director Martin Scorsese recently made its debut on Netflix instant streaming. Netflix, for their part, is historically very stingy when it comes to releasing any sort of ratings information, so it’s sometimes hard to know just how well certain titles are performing. Now we have some indication as to how Scorsese fared and the numbers, on the surface at least, seem solid. But is it enough to make the expensive prestige flick a hit?
According to Neilson, the same company that typically measures TV ratings, has reported that 17.1 unique viewers streamed The Irishman on Netflix in the U.S. in its first five days of release. The movie recently made its debut on the streaming service on November 27 following a limited theatrical run. For the sake of comparison, it was reported that Sandra Bullock’s Bird Box was streamed by nearly 26 million people in its first week of release last year. Netflix, in a relatively rare move, also reported that El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie was watched by more than 25 million people in its first week of release in October.
There are some key differences here. For one, The Irishman runtime is incredibly long, clocking in at 3 hours and 29 minutes. That was the subject of much discussion ahead of the release, and it’s possible that some casual movie watchers were put off by the idea of settling in for 209 minutes of gangster drama. Even if it boasts a cast that includes the likes of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel.
The question is, what makes a movie like this a hit for Netflix? The Irishman, which tells the story of real-life hitman Frank Sheeran, comes with a massive price tag, said to be in the $175 million range. And that doesn’t include marketing. Netflix did give the movie a short, limited theatrical release, but they didn’t report any box office figures, so it’s hard to know if that made a significant difference. For Netflix, it’s all about attracting subscribers. In the short-term, it’s impossible to say if this is going to pay off for them. But, on the surface, 17.1 million is a big number.
Should it be taken as a bad sign that Netflix hasn’t boasted about The Irishman‘s numbers yet? Wouldn’t it make sense for them to report box office numbers if they were worth bragging about? For some, the silence can speak volumes. One thing that will help is the fact that The Irishman is one of the best-reviewed movies of the year and is expected to be a major Oscar contender. This could be Netflix’s best shot at winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards yet, even though they got close with Roma last year. This news comes to us via Variety.