Netflix Already Positioning 'The Irishman' As A Serious Oscar Contender By Planning Wide Theatrical Release

We're all excited for The Irishman, but no one is more excited than the folks at Netflix. Because in the eyes of the streaming giant, Martin Scorsese's new gangster epic is a one-way ticket to winning a Best Picture Oscar next year. Having not scored the top award at the recent Academy Awards with Roma, a new report reveals Netflix is going all-in on positioning The Irishman as a serious Oscar contender. In fact, they might even do something they've never done with one of their movies before: give it a wide theatrical release.

Netflix didn't go home empty-handed at last weekend's Oscar ceremony. Their acclaimed film Roma scooped up Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography and Best Director. But Netflix wanted more. They wanted the coveted Best Picture prize. Several Academy voters anonymously admitted that they flat-out refused to vote for Roma for Best Picture because they thought of it as a "Netflix movie." People in the industry don't care for Netflix's release model – in their minds, movies only really count as movies when they're released in theaters. And while Netflix gave Roma a theatrical release, it was very limited.

According to THR, Netflix is determined to make sure the same issue isn't repeated with Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. Per THR, Scorsese wants a wide theatrical release for the film, and Netflix is working to make it happen. To pull this off, "Netflix will have to expand the three-week art house theatrical window it pioneered amid controversy this awards season and will have to allow theater owners to report box office numbers, which the streamer did not do for Roma."

Netflix recently joined the MPAA, which is just one more step towards following traditional norms. Releasing box office numbers would be another big step. And giving Scorsese's The Irishman a longer wide release certainly makes sense, since Scorsese is the biggest director the streaming service has worked with so far. And while The Irishman is getting the most focus, Netflix is also considering wider theatrical releases for Steven Soderbergh's The Laundromat, David Michôd's The King, Dee Rees' The Last Thing He Wanted, Fernando Meirelles' The Pope and Noah Baumbach's currently untitled film starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver.

Even though the most recent Oscar ceremony was only three days ago, Netflix has already begun ramping up plans for next year. ABC required $2 million to $3 million for 30-second spots to air during the Oscars on Sunday, and Netflix plunked down double that to air a 60-second teaser for The Irishman that had no actual footage.

The Academy currently does not require an exclusive theatrical window on films to earn nominations, but some Academy members are becoming increasingly nervous about that. "People are feeling very strongly that if this loophole continues, it could destroy the whole concept of cinema," an Academy member told THR. On top of all that, several members of the Academy are pushing for a "rule change at the organization that would require a movie to have an exclusive theatrical window of at least four weeks to be eligible for major Oscars." In short, the Academy is trying to do everything in their power to disqualify the current Netflix model, and Netflix has decided to roll over in order to take home more Oscar gold.