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How 'The Irishman' could help Netflix win the streaming wars

Netflix’s (NFLX) big bet on Martin Scorsese might just pay off.

“The Irishman” officially dropped on the streaming platform Wednesday morning after a limited theatrical release. The nearly four hour-long movie (yes, you read that right) stars Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, and is the biggest-ever film investment for Netflix with reported production costs upwards of $160 million.

Netflix, which typically doesn’t share viewership data, has declined to provide box office grosses for films that receive limited theatrical runs. But reports suggest film’s small box office debut brought in about $350,000 in ticket sales during opening weekend.

But that was only the appetizer before the main course.

With Oscar buzz top of mind, “The Irishman” should help solidify Netflix as a worthy contender when it comes to producing award winning content. It’s certainly in better position relative to streaming newbies like Disney+ (DIS) and Apple TV+ (AAPL) as the race for original programming heats up.

It’s also yet another sign of shifting consumer preferences as more and more viewers are opting to watch content from the comfort of their own homes rather than in the theater. Movie theatre ticket sales down over 7% from 2018, according to the latest data from Comscore

Wall Street also seems bullish on Netflix’s road to Oscar glory.

JP Morgan analysts argued the film was bullish for the streaming giant’s stock. “We believe the momentum could start to turn more positive with the release of ‘The Irishman,’” they wrote.

Netflix shares have underperformed the market, tumbling to $231 per share in September, as competition has heat up in the streaming space. But investors haven’t given up on the stock; it closed at $314 on Friday.

Al Pacino (L), Martin Scorsese (C) and Robert De Niro attend The Irishman International Premiere and Closing Gala during the 63rd BFI London Film Festival on October 13, 2019

Why ‘Frozen 2’ is expected to ‘ice out’ the competition

Outside the streaming landscape, the box office is also expected to see strong results with Disney’s ‘Frozen 2’ poised to dominate ticket sales — despite hitting theaters last week.

The animated film is expected to gross an additional $100 million - $120 million between Wednesday and Sunday, adding to its record-breaking opening weekend which saw $130 million in domestic sales.

Other films out on Wednesday include Lionsgate’s murder mystery ‘Knives Out’, which should gross between $20 million-$25 million over the long weekend and Universal’s ‘Queen & Slim’, which is expected to nab $10 million during the five-day rush.

Alexandra Canal is a Producer at Yahoo Finance.

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