There’s a sure thing, and then there’s a sure thing. As far as getting attention and financial investment for a movie project during the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman was squarely in the latter category. The package, which adapts Charles Brandt’s true-crime book “I Heard You Paint Houses,” reteams Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci with their Goodfellas director, and would mark the first time that Scorsese would work with Al Pacino. Yeah, it’s a sure thing.
And yet, prior to last night’s deal at Cannes, Paramount had previously put the picture into turn-around, frustrating attempts from other interested parties. As Deadline reports, it looks like STX Entertainment has picked up the film’s international rights for a whopping $50 million. Impressive, though Mexican producer/financier Fabrica de Cine has closed a deal to finance the $100 million production, so there’s clearly some big money on the line. That’s an obvious result considering the talent involved with the project, but Scorsese is also rumored to be employing de-aging technology for his stars, similar to that seen in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and the recent rejuvenative treatment of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in Captain America: Civil War. Part of both deals is that Paramount still retains the domestic rights, so it sounds like everyone will be crossing their fingers for a big payday when the organized crime drama eventually hits theaters.
Here’s a look at the synopsis for Brandt’s book, “I Heard You Paint Houses” (via Amazon):
The first words Jimmy Hoffa ever spoke to Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran were, “I heard you paint houses.” To paint a house is to kill a man. The paint is the blood that splatters on the walls and floors. In the course of nearly five years of recorded interviews Frank Sheeran confessed to Charles Brandt that he handled more than twenty-five hits for the mob, and for his friend Hoffa. Sheeran learned to kill in the U.S. Army, where he saw an astonishing 411 days of active combat duty in Italy during World War II. After returning home he became a hustler and hit man, working for legendary crime boss Russell Bufalino. Eventually he would rise to a position of such prominence that in a RICO suit then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani would name him as one of only two non-Italians on a list of 26 top mob figures. When Bufalino ordered Sheeran to kill Hoffa, he did the deed, knowing that if he had refused he would have been killed himself. Sheeran’s important and fascinating story includes new information on other famous murders, and provides rare insight to a chapter in American history. Charles Brandt has written a page-turner that is destined to become a true crime classic.