Cineplex Chief on 'The Irishman' Theater Deal: "That Ship Has Sailed"

Netflix
'The Irishman'

"We'll continue to keep speaking with them," Ellis Jacob, head of the Canadian theater chain, said of Netflix after it couldn't reach an agreement with the streamer to carry Martin Scorsese's latest film.

Martin Scorsese's The Irishman won't be playing on a Cineplex screen north of the border. The Canadian chain failed to reach terms with Netflix on a compromise deal that protects the traditional theatrical window.

"That ship has sailed. We were unable to conclude a licensing agreement with them, so unfortunately we won't be playing it in any of the Cineplex locations," Cineplex president and CEO Ellis Jacob told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday.

But Canada's biggest exhibitor is still trying to reach a licensing agreement with the streamer for its future movie titles as Netflix looks with its current wide theatrical release for The Irishman to make the film available to its subscribers as quickly as possible.

"I know them. They are friends. They are good content makers. So we welcome the ability to play their pictures in our theaters as long as they are willing to observe the appropriate window," added Jacob, who is also chairman of the National Association of Theatre Owners.

The Irishman opened Nov. 1 in select indie cinemas willing to carry the drama and will debut Nov. 27 on Netflix after a 26-day theatrical window. But what will finally be deemed an "appropriate" theatrical window between Netflix and Cineplex is something Jacob will not speculate about in public. 

His say does matter, as Cineplex and AMC Theatres recently negotiated with Netflix on a possible play for The Irishman. Media reports suggested that Netflix proposed a 30- to 45-day theatrical run for The Irishman, and Cineplex and AMC Theatres considered a 60-day window.

"This is something that we and our studio partners and Netflix, Amazon and other streamers will work out. Speculating on what is the right date and what isn't the right date is not productive positioning," Jacob argued. He also maintained Netflix getting a theatrical release and positive buzz for its product from the local multiplex would be good business for the streamer.

"They are leaving a lot of revenue on the table, and they're also not getting the benefit of their subscribers being able to see this movie on a big screen, and with big sound and big effects," Jacob said. 

His comments followed Cineplex on Thursday posting higher third-quarter box office earnings from The Lion King and Spider-Man: Far From Home. "We basically exceeded all metrics, and that's due to the new businesses we have," Jacob explained.  

Cineplex in recent years has diversified into media, amusement and leisure businesses to reduce its reliance on the fluctuating Hollywood box office.

Cineplex during the latest quarter posted a net income of $13.4 million, up 31 percent from a year-earlier $10.2 million, as overall revenue jumped to a record $418.4 million, up nearly 9 percent from $386.4 million in 2018. Third-quarter box office revenues were up 2.6 percent to $177.9 million, as theater attendance rose 1.8 percent year on year to 17.5 million patrons.

The box office per-patron was $10.16, a third-quarter record for Cineplex. The exhibition giant also pulled in box office during the latest quarter from Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, It Chapter Two and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

The year-earlier third quarter did its biggest box office from Mission Impossible: Fallout and Ant-Man and The Wasp.