The Irishman Director Martin Scorsese Urges Against Watching His Netflix Movie on a Phone

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese recommends audiences avoid watching his three-and-a-half-hour Netflix movie The Irishman on mobile devices. Acknowledging the length of his big-budget gangster epic, now playing in select theaters alongside its Nov. 27 streaming release, Scorsese is hopeful at-home viewers will treat The Irishman like a movie-going experience free from distraction — including phone use — with limited interruption. The Irishman being viewed on phones is something Scorsese “never thought of” when bringing his film to the streaming service, but the director suggests watching the epic on bigger screens.

“That I never thought of. That I never thought of,” Scorsese admitted on Popcorn with Peter Travers when asked if he was mindful of The Irishman being watched on palm-sized phone screens. “Certainly, I could say, the past 20-some odd years, I’ve made films both for television and — in terms of the screen size — for the theater. Never for a phone. I don’t know how to do it. I wish I could, I don’t know how. No, I don’t get it.”

Acknowledging “films will be made for phones” and will wind up on mobile devices, Scorsese added, “Well, I would suggest — if you ever want to see one of my pictures, or most films — please, please don’t look at it on a phone, please. An iPad, a big iPad, maybe.”

Asked about the ability for at-home viewers to pause the film for bathroom breaks or other interruptions owing to The Irishman’s 209-minute runtime, Scorsese said, “I understand that, too.”

“One of the things about a film three-and-a-half hours, and what this Netflix venue afforded us, I wasn’t sure about … for theaters, for home-viewing, looking at it in sections, looking at the end and going back to the beginning,” he continued, adding The Irishman is engrossing enough to pull in viewers’ attention.

“I’m not saying because, ‘Oh, I made it.’ It was an interesting narrative structure, and it got me involved each time,” Scorsese said. “In a funny way, I think I made it to cover all the bases in terms of how you could watch this picture. Ideally, I’d like you to go to a theater, look at it on a big screen from beginning to end. And I know, it’s long — you gotta get up, you gotta go to the bathroom, that sort of thing, I get it — but also at home, I think if you can make a night of it, or an afternoon thereof, and know that you’re not gonna answer the phone or you’re not gonna get up too much, it might work.”

It’s a compromise Scorsese had to allow to produce The Irishman, which cost a reported $140-plus million.

“No studio in Hollywood would make the picture. Netflix stepped up, and it was a trade-off,” Scorsese said. “You have it for two, three, four weeks in a theater, it stays in a theater, [in the] meantime it’s streamed. So this is the way this picture had to be made.”

Over a span of nine years, the project was held up over concerns of its aging stars and the high cost of digital trickery needed to shave decades off stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.

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“I gotta say — and it’s a delicate issue — but the box office issues, the names. Well, that’s what they were saying. ‘At this time, who really wants to see this kind of thing?’” Scorsese said. “Having said that, there was also the issue that almost half the picture, they’re younger, and they couldn’t play younger. Then we had the CGI come in, and that’s costly, and it was an experiment. People have to give you money, they have a right to question you [laughs].”

The Irishman is now playing in select theaters and streaming on Netflix.