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Martin Scorsese Talks Impact of Hollywood Blockbusters on Cinema: “Well, the Industry Is Over”

Martin Scorsese isn’t especially happy with what Hollywood effects-driven popcorn movies have done to the film industry he helped pioneer with iconic box office hits like Taxi Driver and Mean Streets.  

“Well, the industry is over,” Scorsese told GQ magazine in an interview conducted ahead of the release of his latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon. “In other words, the industry that I was part of, we’re talking almost, what, 50 years ago? It’s like saying to somebody in 1970 who made silent films, what do you think’s happened?” he argued.

Scorsese added that the major studios, preferring easier-to-market popcorn movies that have franchise potential, no longer have interest in supporting “individual voices that express their personal feelings or their personal thoughts and personal ideas and feelings on a big budget. And what’s happened now is that they’ve pigeonholed it to what they call indies.”

The veteran Hollywood director insisted superhero popcorn movies that depend heavily on special effects, or what he referred to as “manufactured content,” no longer represent cinema.

“It’s almost like AI (artificial intelligence) making a film. And that doesn’t mean that you don’t have incredible directors and special effects people doing beautiful artwork. But what does it mean? What do these films, what will it give you? Aside from a kind of consummation of something and then eliminating it from your mind, your whole body, you know? So what is it giving you?” Scorsese said in the magazine interview.

The Hollywood director recalled wrestling with disgraced and now imprisoned film producer Harvey Weinstein over the length and budget for his 2002 passion project Gangs of New York. “I realized that I couldn’t work if I had to make films that way ever again. If that was the only way that I was able to be allowed to make films, then I’d have to stop. Because the results weren’t satisfying. It was at times extremely difficult, and I wouldn’t survive it. I’d be dead. And so I decided it was over, really,” Scorsese remembered.

The director’s creative juices were thwarted again with the 2006 drama The Departed, where Warner Bros. asked if one of the two movie leads, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, could live. “What they wanted was a franchise. It wasn’t about a moral issue of a person living or dying,” Scorsese recalled.

The irony is The Departed earned Scorsese his first and only Oscar as best director.

Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon is set for a Oct. 20 nationwide release date with Apple, in partnership with Paramount, planning a wide global theatrical release ahead of a streaming launch on Apple TV+.

DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone lead the film about the FBI investigation of a series of murders of the Osage people that took place in Oklahoma in the early 1920s. Jesse Plemons, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, Jillian Dion and Tantoo Cardinal also star.

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