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Hollywood’s obsession with box office results, according to Martin Scorsese, is “repulsive”

Hollywood’s obsession with box office results, according to Martin Scorsese, is “repulsive”


Martin Scorsese railed against box office results during an appearance at the New York Film Festival. The Oscar winner called the industry’s obsession with box office results “disgusting” and “really insulting.” Scorsese praised the festival for championing filmmaking at a time when “cinema is being devalued, demeaned and belittled from all sides, not necessarily from the business side, but certainly from the artistic side.”

Scorsese added, “I’ve always known that such considerations have no place at the New York Film Festival, and that’s the key: There are no prizes here. You don’t have to compete. You just have to love the cinema here.”

“Since the ’80s, the emphasis has been on numbers. It’s kind of off-putting,” Scorsese said. “The cost of a film is one thing. When you understand that a film costs a certain amount, you expect to at least get that amount back…. The focus now is on numbers, costs, opening weekend, how much it grossed in the U.S., how much it grossed in the U.K., how much it grossed in Asia, how much it grossed around the world, how many viewers it had. As a filmmaker and as someone who can’t imagine a life without cinema, I always find that very insulting.”

Edgar Wright, an outspoken Scorsese aficionado, made similar comments earlier this month during his BBC Maestro class. Wright recalled how his cult classic “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” flopped on its opening weekend, yet is hardly considered a disappointment all these years later.

Wright added, “You can point to hundreds of classic films, whether it’s ‘Citizen Kane’ or ‘Blade Runner’ or ‘The Big Lebowski.’ So how a film does in the first three days is never the end of the story, and the further we get away from the discourse that box-office results make up the entirety of a film, the better.”

“Since then, I’ve told other filmmakers who may have had a similar initial reaction to a movie like ‘Scott Pilgrim’ that the three-day weekend is not the end of a movie’s story. People shouldn’t buy into that idea,” Wright said. “Judging movies by their box office numbers is kind of like the equivalent of soccer fans. Most of my favorite movies that are considered classics today were not considered hits in their day.”

Scorsese is currently in post-production on his $200 million Western drama “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. The film will be released in 2023 and streamed on Apple TV+.

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  • Hollywood’s obsession with box office results, according to Martin Scorsese, is “repulsive”
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