Martin Scorsese Just Won’t Shut Up Crying About The Trees While Ignoring The Forest

Last weekend’s box office returns support the “franchise movies dominate the theater” claim

As I get older, my eyesight is failing. Hopefully, I won’t ever become as blind to the times as Martin Scorsese. Stay with me, this will be a bumpy and scurrilous ride.

Study the screenshot of last weekend’s box office returns. It supports this screed.

Oh, Mr. Scorsese. You just keep talking. And promoting, mind you, that your movie The Irishman is going to be on Netflix (gasp!) later this month. It should be in the big theaters now, and you know what? That’s their loss. I agree with you that it’s stupid, but am glad you’re movie got made, period, so I’ll get a chance to see it. As an ardent movie lover, I don’t care that it’s on Netflix over at the movie theater, but yes, I agree with you. My guess is many other moviegoers agree, too.

I don’t get the blame game, however. People don’t like whining. When we whined as kids, what were we told?

“Stop whining!”

Scorsese is still making a futile attempt to undo stepping on his tongue dissing Marvel movies, by yesterday writing a guest opinion column for The New York Times. In this op-ed, he continues to lament the current state of cinema. To paraphrase Scorsese, the enemy of the moviegoer are franchise films:

“What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger,” Scorsese added. “Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.”

Martin Scorsese says theaters shouldn’t just be for Marvel movies — Quartz

Sigh. I guess I’m not as cynical about the masses of moviegoers being able to separate good movies from bad, and voting with their wallets.

Case in point: Terminator: Dark Fate ⭐️⭐️½  #1 in box office sales last weekend by the chart. But it is dropping faster than a turd in a flushed toilet. It will have no box office staying power like Joker⭐️⭐️⭐️½ , because it’s — surprise, shock! — not as good.

Dark Fate is a franchise movie that meets all of Scorsese’s ire. I gave it a 10 day countdown on this blog, was genuinely, heartfelt looking forward to seeing it and was utterly disappointed. If you look at the box office returns many people are passing. To counter Scorsese’s point they are not buying tickets to the all mighty franchise movie. Dark Fate is on track to lose over $100 million dollars.

That $100 million loss will speak more than a thousand Martin Scorsese op-eds. When people start getting burned on millions of dollars, that changes the business model. We won’t see another Terminator sequel in the theaters any time soon. Good on that, I say.

Maybe we will get the Terminator movie we want on streaming someday in the future (that’s my hope). A much lower and frankly saner budget, a grittier series of movies that doesn’t terminate what we loved about the first two movies and pander to what Hollywood thinks the masses want (some would say woke, but I don’t buy that for this particular franchise — another rant, another day for that).

Back to Martin Scorsese.

Scorsese is clearly bitter and disappointed that the major studios wouldn’t finance The Irishman. This isn’t Marvel’s fault, or franchise movies fault, it’s a business decision. Big movie studios don’t think they can recoup the money from that movie in ticket sales as easily as with something like Dark Fate. I think they’re wrong and agree with Scorsese but it’s not us risking our money.

He’s lashing out as did Ken Loach and others, saying the big movie houses would rather spend their war chests on franchise films — including Marvel/Disney,etc — than take chances on movies like The Irishman.

Of course they would. Because those franchise films — again, see last weekend’s box office returns — are what are driving the majority of sold tickets. They need to finance movies that sell tickets.

This is what I mean in the headline by focusing on the trees and ignoring the forest. The Irishman is a tree, it’s one movie. Look, Mr. Scorsese, you got your movie made. You won the movie making lottery! Do you have any idea how many great story ideas are out there that don’t get made? That is what we should be focusing on. Finding those gems and working to make them. Say hey, I can make XYZ into a great movie for a measly couple million dollars.

Any remotely active reader could list a ton of great novels that should be adapted into movies tomorrow. With the $100 million+ that will be lost on a subpar Terminator sequel a dozen of these movies or more could have been made and shared. How about 20+ movies? $5 million will still make a pretty darn good movie. Maybe they won’t have the shiny de-aging effects or more realistic CGI, but why not go old school and focus on acting and story instead? Heck, once upon a time great movies were made for less than $1 million. Now the catering bills on some sets exceed the budget of past films.

It’s going to be seen by many more millions on Netflix than it would have been seen at the theater. What are you bitching about? You’re getting your movie in front of the forest!

The more people that see the Irishman will mean more movies like yours will sell tickets at the movie theaters. Moviegoers en masse will buy tickets to good movies. They won’t waste their time with another Terminator sequel when they can choose to stay home and watch Dolemite: Is My Name⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ on Netflix or The Irishman (I haven’t seen this one yet, but hope it will be good), or … maybe they will go to the theater and watch something other than a franchise film.

I mean after you’ve seen the good franchise films that drove you to the theater

(get people to theater to see something over nothing)

…. you are jazzed up and wanting to see something else at the theater. Now, you’ll see those artsy, cinematic movies Scorses seems to feel we’re being starved from being able to watch.

Bollocks. The good movies are in the theater. Sure, they might not have as many screenings and/or require a little more ingenuity and discipline by the moviegoer to take a chance on versus the franchise film — but they are there.

My favorite movie last weekend was Harriet⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ . The story of the great Harriet Tubman. Her story is courageous, is very much not a franchise film, and we haven’t talked nearly enough about it here. My next favorite current in the theater film would be The Lighthouse ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ from A24, again, not a franchise film but a creative, gritty, terrifying jaunt into madness.

Good trees to focus on.

Yes, I’m just one lowly moviegoer and reviewer out here, Martin Scorsese, but I watch as many movies as I can and there are plenty of quality cinema beyond franchise movies. My point is let Hollywood faun over big tentpole movies and advertise the wonder of these huge blockbuster movies because it drives people to the theater experience which is warm, wonderful and has movies that don’t suck.

Put down the sword of blame against franchise movies or superhero movies or whatever type of movie that is more popular to the masses than the movie you want to make. The industry needs big budget movies because they serve as a vehicle to drive people to the movie theater experience. Some of these movies will succeed, some will break even and some will lose. We, as movie lovers, shouldn’t care as long as people keep going to the movies.

Call me an optimist, but I have faith in the forest — in people making the right decision with their hard-earned money – and that driving change with planting more and better trees..

2 thoughts on “Martin Scorsese Just Won’t Shut Up Crying About The Trees While Ignoring The Forest

  1. Scorsese could have phrased it differently though I think it’s an discussion that needed to be had. I agree we sometimes might see a poster for a non-blockbuster when we are at the venue but what bothers me is it’s difficult to find cinemas playing arthouse films. Unless you live in a big city, you have to drive pretty far. That is where I think Scorsese has a point. Mainstream theatres ought to introduce us to different kinds of cinema (like libraries offer the full spectrum). Governmental backing could be the answer if the theatres can’t make a profit from smaller films.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a fair point. I’ve complained about a lack of limited theater releases, and I do live near a big city. Jo Jo Rabbit, is finally going to be available on 11/15 in our area … because for whatever reason that hasn’t been released anywhere. Also, wish the big theaters would re-release more more movies on the big screen celebrating anniversaries. Movies others haven’t seen in the theater. Fathom Events does some of that, but instead of showing a wide screening of a movie at times like 6, 6:30, 7 … show just one of those and leave those other two screenings for other movies as you suggested. We see plenty of empty seats at the theater on opening days for the vast majority of movies being released today, so it’s not a case where the theater can’t show one movie because they are turning away patrons who want to see another movie.

    See: https://moviereviewsbyus.com/2019/09/12/why-arent-more-coming-soon-movies-available-to-watch-in-theaters/

    And the hoops needed to see JUDY when it first came out here: https://moviereviewsbyus.com/2019/09/27/judy-not-screening-at-many-big-theater-chains-in-seattle-area/

    Liked by 1 person

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