By Helen Coster
(Reuters) - Martin Scorsese's highly-anticipated new mob drama "The Irishman" may turn into a case of 'catch it if you can' as far as traditional moviegoers are concerned.
Netflix Inc <NFLX.O> said on Tuesday the movie, starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino and already generating Oscar buzz, will get a limited 26-day release in independent U.S. movie theatres starting in November before arriving on the streaming platform.
Netflix said it planned to keep the movie in theatres for an unspecified period beyond the streaming launch, however.
The announcement follows an impasse in negotiations for a more traditional movie rollout between Netflix and major theatre chains like AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc <AMC.N> and Cineplex Inc <CGX.TO>, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Movie theatre chains prefer an exclusive 90-day theatrical window before a film can appear elsewhere; Netflix wants to offer its films to subscribers sooner.
While the limited release starting Nov. 1 in independent movie theatres will not affect awards eligibility for "The Irishman," the decision reflects the tension between filmmakers, who like their work shown on big screens, and streaming services that have upended Hollywood's traditional business models.
Scorsese, one of Hollywood's most influential directors, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
But De Niro, who is also a producer, told Reuters earlier this year that he, Scorsese and other producers hoped "The Irishman" would "have as much theatrical as possible."
Hollywood website Deadline on Tuesday reported that British art house chain Picturehouse and European movie chain Vue will not screen the film due to the limited theatrical window.
The National Association of Theatre Owners, whose members include the largest movie theatre chains in the world, declined to comment on the Netflix announcement.
"The Irishman," a saga of organised crime in America spanning several decades, chronicles the mysterious disappearance in 1975 of labour union boss Jimmy Hoffa, played by Pacino.
The film, which features costly "de-aging" technology as its protagonists move back and forth in time, will get its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on Sept. 27. Despite not having been seen, it already tops several U.S. critics lists as a likely Oscar best picture contender next year.
Netflix picked up "The Irishman" from Viacom Inc's <VIAB.O> Paramount Pictures in 2017 after ballooning costs. The film cost $159 million to produce, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Netflix's limited theatrical release of "The Irishman" is similar to that of Alfonso Cuaron's black-and-white movie "Roma," which ran exclusively in theatres for 23 days. "Roma" went on to win three Academy Awards in February but missed out on the coveted best picture prize.
(Additional reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Richard Chang and Tom Brown)