Martin Scorsese attacks the industry’s ‘insulting’ focus on profit

Martin Scorsese
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The legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese is once again speaking out in defence of cinema’s artistic principles.

Martin Scorsese caused quite a stir when kicked the hornet’s nest a couple of years ago, arguing that superhero films were more like theme park rides than cinema. Now the veteran filmmaker has stepped up to fire another broadside, this time at the wider industry and what he calls its ‘repulsive’ focus on profit.

Speaking at the New York Film Festival, Scorsese took the stage to state that “cinema is devalued, demeaned, belittled from all sides, not necessarily the business side but certainly the art.”

He went on to add that “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.”

Scorsese would go on to detail his argument slightly, explaining: “The emphasis is now on numbers, cost, the opening weekend, how much it made in the USA, 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.”

There’s no doubt that Scorsese will continue to use his platform to attack what he sees as the commodification of cinema. Whilst his comments may not find favour with everybody, there is merit in his message. Hollywood’s obsession with chasing billion dollar movies is at the heart of many of the artistic problems that the industry is facing and in this country at least, we should be thankful that some organisations exist, such as the BBC or Film4, whose primary focus isn’t always the biggest financial return imaginable.

Yet even the future of those two film production entities is looking shakier however, so even on this side of the Atlantic, Scorsese’s call-to-arms feels very timely.

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