Martin Scorsese is a living legend, and anything he wants to do, he should get to do because he changed cinema and has gifted us with a string of classic films. That being said, if you take him out of the equation, then his latest film, The Irishman sounds insane. The upcoming gangster movie is based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses, the story of hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran. Scorsese’s approach is to set the film in two time periods and digitally de-age stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. You could probably make the same movie for half the price by casting different actors as the younger version of the characters.
Although the movie was originally pegged at $125 million for Netflix, which will distribute the film, costs are now said to be ballooning to $140 million range and climbing according to Deadline. Filming is about to wrap, and The Irishman isn’t due out until 2019, so Scorsese has plenty of time to work on the VFX and editing. Nevertheless, if the budget is already climbing past $140 million, it could end up costing more than the VFX-heavy Hugo, which is currently Scorsese’s most expensive film at $150 million.
Of course, this is Scorsese, and Netflix can afford to pay a master filmmaker whatever he wants, especially if they want to sell their brand as a place for prestige content and not a dumping ground for flops. That being said, if I came to you and said, “I want to spend $140 million making Robert De Niro and Al Pacino look younger even though they rarely turn in good performances these days,” that would sound crazy.
But it’s the behind-the-scenes pairing that people care about with this movie. It will be De Niro’s first movie with Scorsese since 1995’s Casino. It will be the first time Al Pacino has ever worked with Scorsese. It will be the first time De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci have shared the screen together. That’s what Netflix is paying for, and if it happens to cost $140 million, then so be it. In Scorsese we trust.