Before the epic mafia film “The Irishman” streams online for the world to see, Northeast Pennsylvania residents will have a chance to watch it at a family-owned West Hazleton theater.
Sybil Katona, one of the owners of Cinema and Drafthouse, announced the news at an event Wednesday night at the cinema and on Facebook on Thursday morning.
The first showing is slated for 6 p.m. Nov. 22. One of the showings on Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. sold out almost immediately, and online ticket sales were surging since she posted the news on the cinema’s Facebook page.
“You can buy your seats right now, today, and I suggest you do that,” Katona said. “It’s first-come first-serve seating, but if you have a ticket you are guaranteed entrance.”
“The Irishman,” which is about Kingston mafia don Russell Bufalino’s likely role in the disappearance of labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa, premiered at the New York Film Festival on Sept. 27 to rave reviews. Some critics claim it’s the best film ever produced by famed director Martin Scorsese.
Netflix bankrolled the $150 million film and set an online release date of Nov. 27. Most big movie theaters are refusing to show the film because Netflix only offered a small window for them to show it, less than the 90-day minimum standard.
After some negotiations, Katona said Netflix offered her 175-seat venue five days of showings — ahead of its online release — and she quickly agreed.
“I raised my hand and shouted from the rooftops. It was begging,” Katona said Thursday morning in a phone call. “We were able to say there is a ton of interest in our community.”
“The Irishman,” which runs 209 minutes, will play at Cinema and Drafthouse at 31 W. Broad St., West Hazleton, Nov. 22 at 6 p.m.; Nov. 23 at 1 p.m.; Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. (sold out); Nov. 24 at noon and 4 p.m.; Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. and Nov. 26 at 6 p.m.
Netflix is requiring Cinema and Drafthouse to increase its usual $5 ticket price to $10 for “The Irishman,” Katona said.
“We were comfortable with that and felt our customers would be comfortable with that too,” Katona said.
Tickets can be purchased at www.cinemaanddrafthouse.com/event/the-irishman-r/.
For those unfamiliar with Cinema and Drafthouse, it’s a hybrid movie theater and restaurant in which you can order food and drinks from your seat while watching a film.
“Come check us out. Were locally owned, family operated. We sell local beers. We have homemade food. Go on our website. Buy your tickets early and have a good time with us,” Katona said.
A movie that is three and a half hours is ideal for Cinema and Drafthouse, Katona said.
“For three and a half hours, we expect people to be hungry and need drinks,” Katona said. “It gives us the opportunity to serve appetizers, refills and desserts.”
“The Irishman” is based on Charles Brandt’s book “I Heard You Paint Houses,” in which former mob hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran gave detailed end-of-life confessions claiming he killed Hoffa on orders from Bufalino.
Scorsese’s film, bankrolled by Netflix, features a star-studded cast, including Robert De Niro as Sheeran, Al Pacino as Hoffa and Joe Pesci as Bufalino.
Bufalino, who died at age 91 in 1994 at Nesbitt Memorial Hospital in Kingston, lived in a relatively modest house on Dorrance Avenue in Kingston. Often referred to as the “quiet don,” he was one of the most powerful Mafia figures in the country. He is buried in Denison Cemetery in Forty Fort.
A Times-Shamrock reporter attended the premiere of the film in New York City.
In the opening scene, De Niro’s character mentions Pittston, claiming that’s where he picked up Bufalino en route to go kill Hoffa in Detroit in July 1975.
“The Irishman” is also slated to open at the Dietrich Theatre in Tunkhannock on Nov 27, the same day as its online release on Netflix, and could run for as long as three weeks there.
Bob Kalinowski works for The Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-821-2055 or @cvbobkal on Twitter.