There are few words in cinema that set up a movie while mustering interest in its viewers more-so than the above, uttered by Ray Liotta’s character, Henry Hill, in Goodfellas. It’s lines like these that stick with audiences for decades, that make you wonder if Martin Scorsese had an inkling of just how famous the quote and feature-film would become. But if he had a crystal ball in 1990, he may have misplaced it when working on his 2016 release, Silence. While it boasts a good score on both; IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes there is one caveat, it seemingly has not done well with movie goers. To-date, Silence hasn’t even recouped its budget.
In the same way that a great 3-point shooter continues firing on an off night, the Academy Award Winning Director isn’t stopping because of undeservedly poor box-office numbers. Adjusting to an era when the consumers are over saturated with content that is easily accessible Scorsese is moving from the big screen to the comforts of your own home. No, he’s not making a show for HGTV, he’s set to release his next gangster installment, The Irishman, on streaming service juggernaut Netflix.
So what does this mean for the movie market (while Hollywood still belongs to the United States)? The last decade was an exciting time for independent filmmakers. Going low budget and looking to get picked up by a streaming service quickly became a great option to give more up-and-comers a chance. You still had to have talent on all fronts but it gave people a better chance than they had before. The big studios didn’t have to take gambles investing dollars into movies with no guarantee of a return. There’s a reason they don’t stray away from big names, they’re tried and true and they’re tried because they’re true… usually. Without having to worry about monumental marketing budgets you could risk more than half of your coin on a recognizable name that would most likely get you, at the least, a nomination from a popular film festival. This was the formula that led films like, Everything Must Go to the Netflix instant queue.
Plenty followed suit. The pearly white gates of film distribution gleamed in young director’s adolescent eyes around the world. But perhaps this was the end of the bar raising. Before this, unknown directors had two options to make it to where they wanted to go – be creative to a point that was undeniable or work your way up the way your grandfather became foreman at the old mill. This new path undoubtedly led to an over-saturation in the market while changing the way audiences watch movies. How many times have you turned a movie off within the first 5 minutes because it didn’t catch your attention, and/or because you have over a thousand other options with the scroll of a thumb?
In lieu of having quality control, Netflix figured they’d try something not even Jack and Jill could do – resurrect Adam Sandler’s career. While this article claims members have watched more than 500 million hours of Sandler’s most recent lame ducks, no one is publicly praising the craftsmanship of these moving pictures. At lease no one who also wants to be taken seriously by their peers.
There’s not an end in sight to the partnership that some thought would cause a big shift from team flix to Hulu, but the news of Scorsese skipping theaters altogether may have a bigger impact than can be predicted right now. Much like when Henry Hill revealed his life-long dreams of thuggery, all anyone can do is wait and see how this chapter will read in the story of Netflix in the years to come.