Martin Scorsese Comments on Hollywood’s ‘Repulsive’ Obsession With Box Office Results

Martin Scorsese has never held back his opinion of the current state of cinema, and he recently blasted the emphasis put on box office results.

While many financial minds at some of the biggest movie studios in Hollywood might disagree, Martin Scorsese has blasted those who judge movies on their box office performance and says that the obsession with those figures means cinema is being “devalued, demeaned” and “belittled from all sides.” Scorsese was appearing at the New York Film Festival on Wednesday, introducing his New York Dolls documentary, Personality Crisis: One Night Only, when he put forward his outspoken views on the Hollywood machine.

Martin Scorsese has never held back his distaste of certain types of movies – mentioning no names, ahem, Marvel – that he says choke the box office and prevent good cinema from being seen. Now in his latest comments on the state of the industry, the iconic director has once again taken a shot at the belief a massive box office hit is a good film. He commented:


“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.”

Scorsese continued, praising the festival as one of the places that a film can be taken to just be seen and not have to compete for attention or awards. He added:

“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.”

Related: Here’s What Makes Hugo One of the Best Martin Scorsese Films of All Time

Martin Scorsese Has Previously Said Cinema Is Being Devalued

Martin Scorsese has never been shy about airing his opinions on the current state of cinema, and as well as frequent swipes at all-dominant blockbusters, the director has also noted that there have been many changes to what qualifies as content these days. He previously said:

“As recently as fifteen years ago, the term ‘content’ was heard only when people were discussing the cinema on a serious level, and it was contrasted with and measured against ‘form.’ Then, gradually, it was used more and more by the people who took over media companies, most of whom knew nothing about the history of the art form, or even cared enough to think that they should. On the one hand, this has been good for filmmakers, myself included. On the other hand, it has created a situation in which everything is presented to the viewer on a level playing field, which sounds democratic but isn’t. If further viewing is ‘suggested’ by algorithms based on what you’ve already seen, and the suggestions are based only on subject matter or genre, then what does that do to the art of cinema?”

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