Martin Scorsese Slams Hollywood Judging Movies Based On Box Office

Director Martin Scorsese slams Hollywood for how they heavily judge the value of a movie based on box office returns. Scorsese is one of the most renowned directors to ever grace cinema, having more than a few films on his resume regarded as classics. Movies from early in his career, like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, are now routinely taught in film schools as examples of stellar character work and filmmaking. Scorsese is known for numerous gangster films that audiences still love and talk about, like Goodfellas, Casino, The Departed, and The Irishman.


To date, Scorsese has had nine films nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, and he has earned nine Best Director nominations. Unfortunately, to the dismay of many, he has only won Best Director once for The Departed, which also won Best Picture. However, many felt his win was well overdue by the time he won. Still, Scorsese’s passion for cinema is well documented, with the director fighting to preserve what he loves about the medium while also occasionally denouncing what he sees as a hindrance to the art, like Marvel films. Now, the director is voicing concerns about the state of cinema and Hollywood.

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While speaking at the New York Film Festival to introduce his documentary New York Dolls in the clip shared by Ellen Houlihan, Scorsese opened up about how Hollywood’s reliance on box office returns is hurting cinema. He denounces Hollywood for judging the success of a movie from a purely monetary position, which devalues the art on display. Scorsese even goes as far as calling it “repulsive.” Check out Scorsese’s comments below:

“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.”

Why Martin Scorsese Is Right About The Box Office

While Scorsese is known to be passionate about cinema as art, his comments carry some truth. The movies that generally make the most money at the box office are seen as a success even when they are often not regarded as great films. For example, 2016’s Suicide Squad holds a 26% Rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes, but went on to make over $746 million worldwide, likely based on marketing and character recognition over quality. Furthermore, films like Adam Sandler’s 2010 comedy Grown Ups was also hated by critics, but it managed to earn over $271 million worldwide off an $80 million budget, which saw the movie get a sequel. Even when movies are loved by critics, like The Hangover, which made over $469 million worldwide, not many would label the film as art.

So while some, like film studios, may not agree with Scorsese’s comments, the director has plenty of evidence from which to pull. Even within his own filmography, there are examples, like Silence and Bringing Out the Dead, which were both loved by critics, but failed to make much of an impact in theaters. Those films were likely judged as failures by studios who may have lost money on them, but they live on as great pieces of artistic cinema, making Scorsese’s comments ring true. So while cinema currently relies on box office returns, filmmakers like Scorsese continue to fight for art in the medium.

Next: The Martin Scorsese Movie Almost Made By Tim Burton

Source: Martin Scorsese/Ellen Houlihan

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