Martin Scorsese is no stranger to making claims that upset the Hollywood establishment. Recently he insisted there’s no correlation between quality and profit. After his comments about his distate for Marvel movies caused some serious uproar in the film industry, it seems he’s doubling down on his opinions.
For a long time, it seems that there’s been some kind of conception that profitability is somehow directly correlated to the quality of art. While the whole thing is extremely subjective, the opinions of critics and the audience are often at odds. Whether we’re talking about movies, TV, video games, or music, there’s often a huge disparity between how much money something made, and the consensus on its quality.
Sometimes, this makes for a cult classic. Other times, people decry critical darlings as pretentious garbage. What Scorsese has to say does hold a very large grain of truth. Scorsese himself didn’t win any major awards until the release of The Departed, a movie that came out well into his career. During a speech he made to introduce his new film Personality Crisis: One Night Only at the New York Film Festival, he better articulated his opinions. He shared the following feelings:
Since the ’80s, there’s been a focus on numbers. It’s kind of repulsive. The cost of a movie is one thing. Understand that a film costs a certain amount, they expect to at least get the amount back, plus, again. The emphasis is now on numbers, cost, the opening weekend, how much it made in the U.S.A., how much it made in England, how much it made in Asia, how much it made in the entire world, how many viewers it got. As a filmmaker, and as a person who can’t imagine life without cinema, I always find it really insulting. I’ve always known that such considerations have no place at the New York Film Festival, and here’s the key also with this: There are no awards here. You don’t have to compete. You just have to love cinema here.
Regardless of if you think Scorsese is just being a grump about his chosen art form, it’s difficult to deny at least a kernel of truth in his concerns.