"The Irishman," the new crime epic from Martin Scorsese, was streamed on more than 26 million accounts around the world in the film’s first week on the Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) streaming platform, the company said.
Netflix estimates the film will be streamed by more than 40 million account holders in its first 28 days. It’s tough to say exactly how many actual viewers that is, but it’s safe to say the viewership number is larger, because more than one person is often likely watching the movie together, Netflix says.
That puts "The Irishman," with its cast of all-time mob movie superstars including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, on pace for about half the number of streams for last year’s thriller “Bird Box,” which drew about 45 million worldwide streams in its first week on its way to being streamed by 80 million account holders in its first month.
But how does the master of the cinema'sforay into streaming compare to his big screen viewership? Let's compare "The Irishman" to the estimated number of ticket buyers for some of Scorsese's biggest films.
How 'Irishman' Stacks Up With Other Scorsese Films
The 2006 organized crime thriller starring Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson, grossed just under $38 million in its release week, according to Box Office Mojo. At the 2006 U.S. average movie ticket price of $6.55 that means about 5.8 million people saw the film in the United States. Add in international viewers and it probably got about double that, which is to say, still less than a quarter of the people who saw "The Irishman" this week.
Another DiCaprio vehicle, "Shutter Island" pulled in just under $53 million in its first week in theaters in February of 2010. At $7.89 a ticket that year, we can figure about 6.7 million people saw this creepy thriller the first week. Netflix wins again.
Let's compare a mob movie to a mob movie.
"Goodfellas" could have used some more muscle to "encourage" viewers it seems, having grossed just about $9 million in its first week in the theater in autumn 1990. The good news was, you could see it for an average ticket price of just $4.22, and about 2.1 million people did in the U.S. That's likely fewer than the number of people who watched "The Irishman" on one night.
There's no weekly box office data available for what's probably Scorsese's best-known film. But the viewership over the years is much higher than the number of people who saw it in theaters when it came out in 1976, because nobody who has ever taken a film class has finished the course without watching the De Niro classic. Still, its total worldwide gross was $27 million (about $122 million when adjusted for inflation).
Hard as it may be for film buffs to believe, far fewer people paid the 1976 average ticket price of $2.13 to see "Taxi Driver" in the theater — about 12.6 million people — than watched "The Irishman" last week.
Cinema Loses To...'Not Cinema'
Earlier this year, Scorsese created some controversy when he said Marvel films aren't really "cinema."
Scorsese wasn't arguing box office, of course, but art.
Still, it's worth pointing out that the biggest ever first week at the box office was turned in earlier this year by Marvel and Walt Disney Co's (NYSE: DIS) "Avengers Endgame." It grossed just under $474 million that week. That means more than 51 million people saw it just in the U.S. in seven days, more than will watch "The Irishman" all month on Netflix worldwide.
Photo courtesy of Netflix.