Few boosts are bigger for a book than a film adaptation, and New Hampshire-based Steerforth Press is preparing for one this fall by re-branding Charles Brandt’s I Heard You Paint Houses to share the same name as Martin Scorsese’s forthcoming “The Irishman.” The trailer for the true crime story of mafia hit man Frank Sheeran, which stars Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, and Harvey Keitel, was released July 31 and the film will debut at the New York Film Festival on September 27.
Steerforth will release new mass market and trade paperback editions of the book in mid-October, with cover art to match the film and the co-branded title The Irishman. The press will continue to keep what publisher Chip Fleischer terms a “classic” edition of the book with the original title in print throughout, and recently completed a 60,000 copy print run to meet the surge in demand that has come with the trailer’s release.No print runs have been announced for the paperback editions.
The film’s completion comes after years of project delays. The rights were originally purchased by Paramount in 2009 but filming did not commence for years after. Netflix ultimately acquired the film but some uncertainty about the wide-release date remains as the streaming company negotiates with theater companies about the scope and timing of a theater engagement for screening the movie.
Fleischer said that Netflix has, “been incredibly good to work with.” He added that there have also been interesting differences working with them on a tie-in as opposed to a traditional film company. For instance, Fleischer explained that while movies used to have one movie poster, “Netflix has dozens of images per show based on [the user’s] metadata.” The result is that different viewers will see different images tailored to their viewing history when they log into Netflix, and the selection of a cover for the tie-in books cannot simply match one iconic poster image the way it once did. Netflix has yet to release the art that Steerforth will use for the new book covers.
For Fleischer, who was acquisitions editor at Steerforth when the manuscript for I Heard You Paint Houses came through the door, the film’s release is yet another milestone for a title that debuted as Steerforth’s bestselling book when it was published in 2004 and has long been the press’s bestselling backlist title. Fleischer said that the book’s success stems from its appeal beyond traditional true crime readers. “Demographically, you can’t guess who’s going to love this book based on gender and age,” he said.