Joe Pesci and Robert DeNiro have not co-starred in a film directed by Martin Scorsese since 1995’s Casino — but that could soon change. Netflix is close to finalizing a deal to acquire the rights to Martin Scorsese’s perpetually gestating film The Irishman, with a cast that could boast DeNiro, Pesci, and Al Pacino.
According to reports from Indiewire, Netflix is looking to lock up global distribution rights for the Scorcese gangster flick. The film is based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt. The story centers on infamous Irish gangster Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, whom Brandt was the lawyer for at the time of Sheeran’s death in 2003.
A source close to the film informed Indiewire that “Scorsese’s movie is a risky deal, and Paramount is not in the position to take risks.” The source also says that Netflix handling the film instead of Paramount ensures Scorsese “can make the project he wants.”
The film’s potential $100 million budget comes with possible risks including Pacino and DeNiro — veteran actors in their 70s — being digitally altered to look 40 years younger in the film. The film was also set to star Pesci, but the actor has been reticent about getting involved.
Paramount Pictures first acquired the rights to The Irishman in July 2014, with a planned November 2015 release date. Since then, Paramount’s parent company Viacom had public internal battles, was prepared to be sold, and lost its chairman and vice chairman.
After establishing hit original TV shows like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, Netflix has been forcefully entering the original film space in a major way. Netflix acquired films Bright and War Machine, starring Will Smith and Brad Pitt, respectively, in the last 18 months. Netflix also recently purchased 14 films from this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Scorsese has been talking about making The Irishman since late 2010, and it is reportedly set to be released in 2019.