Robert De Niro thinks filmmakers should be open to working with streaming services, which is one of the reasons his upcoming film, “The Irishman,” is making its debut on Netflix.
In a recent interview with CNN, De Niro talked about resistance to Netflix films as Oscar contenders by Steven Spielberg and others in Hollywood.
“With all due respect to Steven Spielberg, Steven was one of the first people to come into Tribeca and I’m indebted to him, but he’s the most successful director in the world, ever,” De Niro told CNN while promoting the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival. “It’s not that easy for other people in smaller situations and it’s about the work.”
Spielberg previously told ITV News last March, “Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. I don’t believe that films that are given token qualifications, in a couple of theaters for less than a week, should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”
Spielberg, who is an Academy board member, has reportedly spearheaded discussions about qualifying rules regarding streaming service films.
“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation. He’ll be happy if the others will join (his campaign) when that comes up. He will see what happens,” a spokesperson for Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Entertainment, told IndieWire in February.
Since then, the Academy has confirmed that they received a letter from the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, warning them against implementing rules that would potentially exclude films from companies like Netflix.
De Niro agrees that the experience of going to the movies is still important, which is why “The Irishman” will also have a limited theatrical release.
“A lot of opportunity has come out of the Netflix thing. It’s not so simple and I agree we have to have the theater format, it’s so important. But I don’t know, things move on in ways that we can’t foresee,” De Niro added. “But the respect for the theater format venue whatever we have to try and hold on to.”
The film, directed by Martin Scorsese, is a biographical crime story about labor union leader, Frank Sheeran, played by De Niro. The movie also stars Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Bobby Cannavale and Ray Romano.
This will be De Niro and Scorsese’s ninth film together. Their working relationship began in 1973 with “Mean Streets,” before they went on to make classics like 1976’s “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” in 1980 for which De Niro won an Oscar, “Goodfellas” in 1990, “Cape Fear” in 1991, “Casino” in 1995, and more recently “The Audition” in 2015.
De Niro said the reason they continue to work together is simple: Scorsese is open to taking chances.
“He’s a very giving person who understands, is able to take ideas and run with them or encourage you to run with them and if they work they work but at least he will say, ‘Yeah, let’s do it, let’s try it.’” De Niro said of Scorcese. “We do have a special relationship but he does that with everybody he works with creatively.”