The Irishman‘s three-and-a-half week exhibition experience begins today. (Streaming will begin on Wednesday, 11.27.) New York and Los Angeles are well served, of course, and other major cities (Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle) have a booking or two. But major cities in many other regions do not. Some states have been totally blanked.
When Netflix bookers failed to cut deals with major exhibitors, they were honorably obliged to find indie exhibition playdates that would reach culturally attuned audiences in big cities. We’re talking about a blue-chip, critically-approved Martin Scorsese masterpiece here. What’s the point of showing a film of this calibre in Podunk burghs while at the same time blowing off audiences in big, wealthy, culturally aspiring hives?
Here’s a rundown of where The Irishman is playing nationwide. No bookings at all in at least 22 states — Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Virginia, Rhode Island, Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa, South and North Carolina, South and North Dakota, Minnesota, Mississippi, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, New Hampshire or Tennessee. (I may have missed a state or two.)
In the entire state of Texas The Irishman is playing in exactly one theatre in Dallas. Netflix couldn’t find a booking in the People’s Republic of Austin? The Alamo Drafthouse guys weren’t interested?
And Netflix blew off the entire east coast of Florida to book it in Bonita Springs, a Gulf of Mexico resort town.
A perfect Miami venue would have been the historic, independently owned Tower Theatre (1508 SW 8th St.). Right now Pedro Almodovar‘s Pain and Glory is playing there along with Pierre Salvadori‘s The Trouble With You. Local Scorsese fanatics have no choice but to drive across the state for two hours, rent a motel room in Bonita Springs, and then drive back the next day.
Are you telling me Netflix couldn’t find a single acceptable booking in the entire east coast strip of southern Florida? They couldn’t book it in Key West’s Tropic Cinema?
The evidence suggests that Netflix bookers simply didn’t give a damn about serving upmarket viewers. They adopted a scattershot dartboard approach and booked it whatever and however.
If they’d hired a seasoned indie exhibition veteran to oversee their bookings they could have hit the right cities and regions and reached out to the right audiences.