Fasten your seatbelts, and prepare to ride the hypocrisy train.
And here I thought we wouldn’t be reading about any more dramatic, disappointing rants over the death of cinema as an art form thanks to the big bad wolf known as streaming from none other than legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese.
There are too many quotes in the article linked from Scorsese to highlight, but here’s one of them.
“We can’t depend on the movie business, such as it is, to take care of cinema,” he wrote. “In the movie business, which is now the mass visual entertainment business, the emphasis is always on the word ‘business,’ and value is always determined by the amount of money to be made from any given property.”
Seriously, we don’t care for cinematic snobbery. We love watching movies and definitely see it as an artform — for some, anyway. For others, perhaps even for most filmmakers these days — who don’t even shoot on 35mm film anymore — it is a content factory. Guess we agree with Scorsese on that point, but just because most filmmakers bend the knee and Scorsese feels like he doesn’t have to (and he might be right to feel that way based on his awesome body of work), doesn’t mean his stature as an artist historically will be diminished.
But his quotes, my goodness, they need severe context to defend.
Regardless, if Scorsese is saying some bizarre things in his later years in interviews — or is being tragically misquoted, time and again to generate a salacious headline — his place in history is sound. Respectfully, I think he should work more on the business side of his movie-making (see: Martin Scorsese – Great Director Struggling Staying Within Budget), because making movies that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make — even if you’re the great Martin Scorsese — are not a great value proposition, art be damned, sorry, in the current cinematic universe.
Due to the pandemic filming was delayed “indefinitely” but apparently a new shooting date has been scheduled in 2021, and Scorsese is going all in with the Osage Nation, picking out many historic spots and plans to cast many Native Americans.
“Flower Moon” has been described by Scorsese as his first full-on Western movie and is reuniting the filmmaker with muses Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie is based on David Grann’s historical book and centers around the Osage Nation murders, in which members of the Native American tribe were killed after discovering oil on their reservation. The murders attracted the attention of the newly-created FBI.
I’m still going to question the budget of $200+ million. Does this movie have to cost this much? It’s not Avatar, Star Wars or even the next Christopher Nolan film. I know it’s Martin freaking Scorsese and he deserves to make big budget movies, but what is this going to have to gross to make any money?
That’s the bummer for me. If it is a great film — and for Scorsese’s first ever western, it probably will be — there will be all this buzz when it comes out that it “bombed” if it doesn’t make $750+ million. That just seems like unfair pressure for any film. Plus how can something be a failure that makes that kind of money? The movie world is upside down on success when it comes to budgets and box office success.
The finances aside, the other issue is run time. Any early guesses on how long this movie will be? Three plus hours? Four?
Here’s a not-so-crazy idea: make this a 4-6 part miniseries. Bet it would be incredible and our bladders would collectively say thank you. Snark aside, I look forward to any new Scorsese film, regardless of budget, story, run time. Do you want to know more about this film, or are you looking forward to it already, too?
What little I know about Killers of the Flower Moon sounds like good source material for another Scorsese movie and won’t deny through his long and storied film career that he deserves somebody to step in and help him with the budget. My only question is why somebody as experienced as him can’t better map out the budget in advance?
Netflix, Apple and Amazon remained strong possibilities for budgetary help. This trend is concerning on a number of levels. It’s one thing to be an established director looking for a cost overrun assistance (see: Martin Scorsese – Great Director Struggling Staying Within Budget), but these days streaming companies seem all too willing to open their wallets for most any movie project from anybody. Their desperation for volumes of new content needs to be tempered with fiscal responsibility. Don’t ask Netflix too much for that (they are outspending everybody for original content), but Amazon and Apple have been better in that department.
Lower, more sensible, responsible budgets, a smaller theatrical window, better synergy and cooperation between studio and movie theaters and (gasp!) streaming — the entertainment world would be a better, smarter place with these constructs. My argument is we’d receive better movies with an eye to creativity instead of fancy special effects and ridiculously cliched scripts.
What do you think?
Good to see the streamers jump in and bail out budgets? It depends on what director it is? Would you like to see more lower budget, yet quality creative films being made?
This is not the time to be pushing budgetary limits, even if the changes make for a better film in the end.
Maybe these great directors have some issue with staying on budget because they are perfectionists of the craft and want to reshoot or fiddle and fix (George Lucas went back to the Star Wars re-editing well too much — Gredo shot first!).
We already know Scorsese lingers too much at time in his movie’s runtimes (The Irishman was too freaking long — great movie, but too long), so maybe staying on budget is another downfall.
Whatever the case, Paramount is crying uncle on Scorsese’s current project.
Ultimately, Paramount signed on to produce the movie, but now reports are indicating Killers of The Flower Moon has now ballooned way over its initial budget and Paramount has asked Martin Scorsese to find another distributing partner.
Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio are starring in this movie and a walk-in role is being offered as a bonus for those who contribute to charity setup by the actor. Also, Scorsese is talking to Apple and Netflix about possibly financing the film and/or sharing with Paramount.
What will Bong Joon Ho create next? He’s got that super sweet well-deserved Oscar buzz on and now a personal letter from Martin Scorsese encouraging him to “rest” and then get back to work making another one.
“This morning I got a letter from Martin Scorsese,” Bong told journalists. “I can’t tell you what the letter said because it’s something personal. But towards the end he wrote, ‘You’ve done well. Now rest. But don’t rest for too long.’ He continued by saying how he and other directors were waiting for my next movie.”
To date, Bong Joon Ho has made only 11 films. Born in September 1969, he’s 50 years old. If he decides to make one film every two years, maybe we can expect another 10-20+ films from him before he retires. I’d like to see one of his next movies be in all English.
The President of the United States isn’t in the Bong Hive fan club:
“The winner is a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about? We’ve got enough problems with South Korea, with trade. And after all that, they give them best movie of the year?” Trump said,
Others are already telling the president that foreign trade policy has nothing to do with whether or not Parasite was deserving to win the Best Picture award. Trump doesn’t like Brad Pitt either.
Like I’ve already stated, I’m happy for Bong Jong Ho and his team. The film was not my choice for Best Picture either (see my choices: 92nd Oscar Nomination Predictions) and honestly even Bong would not have been disappointed if he didn’t win Best Picture, by then he had scooped up three other Oscars. The votes were cast and unless we have some evidence of ballot impropriety, I’m just congratulating the winners and moving on. It’s 2020 now, new movies, new potential nominees …
For the record, though, I wasn’t in Brad Pitt’s corner either. I think Joe Pesci turned in a better supporting actor performance, but again, congrats to Pitt on the win. He won as far as I know fair and square. Maybe next year my choices for Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture will win. If no, oh well. I had fun making predictions, even if I didn’t get all of them correct.
He is a brilliant filmmaker and clearly a very intelligent man, but I’ve never understood his beef — still don’t completely — with movies based on comic books / superheroes being like “theme parks.” In the director roundtable video below he is more coherent and reasonable with his explanation and concerns. It’s also nice to see how he supports streaming. If you don’t know much about Martin Scorsese other than his films, after watching the video below you’ll better appreciate his point of view. I did.
Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Todd Phillips (Joker), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Fernando Meirelles (The Two Popes) get together in an excellent roundtable discussion on the current state of filmmaking. Great stuff!
Still, after watching this, I can see some directors, including Mr. Scorsese, wanting to apply an asterisk to superhero/comic films being not as artistic as say Little Women, The Irishman or Marriage Story. You can sense Todd Phillips sticking up a bit for Joker, although he admits Joker was heavily inspired by Scorsese’s earlier films Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. It would have been cool to include the Avengers; Endgame directors, Anthony and Joe Russo in this roundtable. A missed opportunity by the Hollywood Reporter.
Harley Quinn vs. The Irishman and other artistic films
For me, the character Harley Quinn — yes, a comic book character — has opened up a deep extended universe of material similar to how some of the artistic (dare I say “Oscar-bait”?) films do like Oliver Stone’s JFK made me dig deeper into the world surrounding the JFK Assassination (a topic that I had already been fascinated with) and The Irishman had me poking around on Wikipedia looking back into the life of Jimmy Hoffa.
Just for clarity, I didn’t know much about the character Harley Quinn six months ago. Since that time, with a driving interest in learning more about the upcoming film, Birds of Prey [FIRST LOOK] that comes out February 7, 2020, I ended up doing the following:
Subscribed to DC Universe and began following the new adult animated series, Harley Quinn — new reviews of episodes posted here every Friday
Starting to explore reading the comics involving Harley Quinn (ongoing)
Watched Batman: The Animated Series to see the first time Harley Quinn appeared in a TV show — and then watched, rated, and reviewed all 8 episodes
Learned about the live action TV series, Birds of Prey, that is also available for streaming on DC Universe. It stars Dina Meyer as Barbara Gordon and Mia Sara as Dr. Harleen Quinzel / Harley Quinn.
Downloaded the DC Universe Online game for Nintendo Switch and paid for a one month member legendary account (at least so far one month, maybe more to follow if I have enough time to play) to explore the game as both a DC hero and villain. My villain character is called HarlsItIs and is styled after Harley Quinn. The first time, btw, I’ve ever played a character in a game that wasn’t male
Speaking of art, check out just a small sample of the art inside the DC Universe game involving the character Harley Quinn:
So, not only can moviegoers watch movies and TV shows with the character Harley Quinn, they can play a video game with Harley as one of the characters. Can’t get much more interactive and immersive than that.
I realize some people think of comics and animation as a juvenile activity, something we’re supposed to get past when we’re older, but I strongly disagree. Art is art and who is anybody to tell anybody else what isn’t art? What s/he should care about?
That is probably what bothered me the most about Scorsese’s commentary. I felt like he was trying to tell me what I should consider art rather than realizing he was just stating what he thought was art.
This brings me back to why I disagree with the whole “theme park” comparison. Many people enjoy theme parks, many enjoy comics and there are many who still enjoy museums and classic art. We can have all the cake and eat it, we don’t have to pick and choose a particular type and say, “that defines what is cake.”
This is my fundamental disagreement with what Scorsese, I believed, was trying to say about certain films not being art, but my mea culpa is he has the right to pick the cake he wants to eat. I believe this was acknowledged all along, but it’s worth restating. You have a right to define “art” however you want. So do I. Same for Scorsese. We just need to keep our perspective broad and remember the bigger picture.
That’s a million miles for viewers to travel with a full-length movie. That’s a TV mini-series length with a pilot and a couple episodes. I’m not saying full length movies can’t be made at this length, but it’s asking the viewers to be extremely patient and there better be enough star power involved, complexity and creativity in the story to justify the time.
Yes, there is star power.
Martin Scorsese the legendary director and starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. None of these people need an introduction and getting them all together in any film? Wow.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, what follows is critical discussion on the movie and contains spoilers. My fairly spoiler-free review is here:
What follows beyond here contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie, yet, I’m recommending you do before returning and reading what follows.
… you have been warned … SPOILERS past here …
This movie budget of $160 million was financed by Netflix. This whiz bang de-aging technology is, as we saw in Terminator: Dark Fate with John Connor, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton (for a minute or two) believable. We are seeing senior aged actors young on the screen again. I’m not sure that’s worth the cost of making more movies, but hey, it mostly suspended my belief.
Scorsese likens de-aging to a “different kind of makeup”
In a short discussion after the movie, director Martin Scorsese explains why the de-aging technology is a worthwhile experiment. He compares it to a different type of makeup. He points to Elephant Man as an example. The problem I have with that comparison is CGI is digital, not analog. It’s not the same art as a human being preparing and putting on the makeup. The flaws in the work are what make us human beings.
Computers do not make mistakes, except for in the programming. The lack of flaws, imperfections, strips away some element of art. That is what I challenge from a creative perspective.
Was eagerly awaiting seeing The Irishman at midnight 11/27/2019 when it became available on Netflix. Wasn’t sure I could stay awake or not, because I’m usually sleeping around this time during the week. As it turns out, the length and the lateness of the hour forced me to restart from the beginning and watch it again this morning.
This has a very Casino ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ -like setup complete with the opening scene of the central protagonist with ongoing flashback narrator (mostly De Niro as Sheeran) commentary. It follows the life of an alleged mafia hitman and the Teamsters heavy, Frank Sheeran. It’s based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and Closing The Case on Jimmy Hoffa. The book is disputed by some and I haven’t read the book to be able to compare and contrast as far as the adaptation on the screen.
I wasn’t a fan of the first two acts of this movie.
How could those first two acts have been improved? More family interaction, less murder and throwing guns into the water.
There are no romantic subplot with outstanding female actresses like Sharon Stone in Casino to provide a dramatic relief valve from men doing bad things to other men, it’s just bad guys being bad guys everywhere all the time. The only times — except the final act — we see women are when they are put in harm’s way or taking care of children and/or housekeeping.
Yes, this might have been realistic for the time and story, but weren’t there any strong women in Sheeran’s life besides the brief scenes with his family? I’m not getting all woke in this review, but, well, if you’re going to put me through 3 1/2 hours, I need some sort of light to go with the dark. The only love displayed with any emphasis in this film are for money and mob ties.
Until the third act. I’ll get to that shortly.
Also, some recycled scenes from other movies. There is a familiar car bomb scene complete with drama turning the key (will the car blow up?). This scene was necessary … why? How about another scene with Sheeran’s estranged daughter? This would increase the dramatic punch of the third act.
The first two acts are where most of my criticism revolving around the film run time lies.
I absolutely loved the third act. In fact, if Scorsese had chopped the 2.5 hours down to 1.25 and then added the ending, we’d have a film about 2 1/2 hours and it would have been a masterpiece.
The third act is a different film. I was completely engrossed with the last hour or so. This is where most of the run time is earned back, because we not only learn what happens to Hoffa (one of the few movies to payoff on that great mystery) but that is the main course.
The dessert is where the film becomes great. Talented creative people know when they need to keep going. To put that final polish on with a mesmerizing epilogue. This, the last 30-45 minutes, that we understand what the film is really about. All the violence and mob hits consequences boiling over.
The story goes into heavy reflection mode and finally the light I was missing the rest of the film becomes illuminated, making more sense of the violence. Regret in those final hours when we’re staring down death’s door what matters isn’t how many people you’ve killed or how much damage you’ve done, it’s who you’ve loved and who has loved you.
In the case of Frank Sheeran, he died the way he lived: an outcast from the family he loved. They were afraid to come to him because of the vengeful actions he might take. He seems to realize in that final moment of film that he has lived in fear himself, looking over his shoulder all the time, needing the door kept open a crack, because being enclosed forces him to face his life’s reflection.
Deep stuff. I love it.
But I can’t forgive the run time. I know others will probably disagree with me, but this story could have been done without so much padding in the first two acts. It’s a shame that some people equate length of stories, volumes of words or in the case of movies, amount of run time as a definition of quality. In my opinion this is more laziness than genius. Go look up Professor Strunk. “Omit needless word!” was his founding principle.
I’m not saying there can’t be long novels and long movies, but use the time well. The first two acts of this film could have been used much better. The third act is a masterful demonstration of how to end a movie.
Reviews by Others
Where do others weigh in on The Irishman? I’ve found very few reviews that are not recommended, so am lumping them all together rather than separating.
Did I miss your review? I realize this is being posted close to when the movie was made available on Netflix streaming, so I’m going to continue to update this section with additional reviews as I come across them for a few days.
In the meantime, feel free to use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs. Yes, even those who disagree with my reviews and vice versa.
LouBickle25 (5/5): “Scorsese’s best film in years –– an accomplished, necessary picture in his filmography that harkens back to his finest works; one whose greatness is sound, unsparing, and gradually felt.”
One Movie Our Views: “…immersive dramatic storytelling from a true master of his craft, a film that not only fits in perfectly with Scorsese’s previous oeuvre but also deepens the themes of his earlier works to provide a perfect capper on his legendary career.”
Movie Nation (2.5/4): “So why did I keep thinking about Steven Spielberg through this funereal mob film finale? Because Spielberg opposed allowing Netflix epics like this bloated, under-edited indulgence into the Academy Awards. A blank check from the streaming service to our greatest living director to tell the mob tale to end all mob tales only meant he’d never hear a Studio Voice of Reason suggesting he thin out the repetition, give it clarity and PACE while losing some of the staggering number of “travel” scenes.”
DC’s Take: “Sure, it might be over three hours long, but it’s able to keep you engaged from start to finish. The direction was flawless, outstanding powerhouse performances from all three leads, and a fantastic script to cap it all off in being one of the best movies of the year. “
Chicken of Tomorrow: “…capable of standing proudly in the pantheon of Scorsese’s other works, it can very well be counted among the director’s best. The film may finally snag Netflix the best picture Oscar it has long coveted, and the cinematic landscape to which Scorsese is so passionately committed may never be the same again.”
Bringin The Juice (95/100): ” While their still is doubt that this is the true telling of what happened to Jimmy Hoffa, this is the most widely accepted version. But even without that, this is a masterclass in film making, acting and storytelling as a whole.”
El Burrito Blog: “It’s some of the most perfect, original and beautiful storytelling the man has ever done. It’s a film that’s deep, pure, entertaining and honest.”
Dariush: “…tremendous, sincere piece of work, well worth trying to catch on the biggest screen you can find. Final thought on the performances: Pesci and De Niro are wondrous, Pacino does the best Pacino he’s done for years, but it’s the near-wordless Anna Paquin who is arguably the movie’s most haunting presence. And, in many ways, its wounded heart.”
pizzaluca (4/5): “The performances are uniformly excellent, and the third act’s mature and fascinating take on the bleakness of a gangster’s life is a fitting coda to a filmography that once famously said “for as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a gangster.” “
Dylan Moses Griffin: “I must implore those to see it in the theater if they can, I’m so grateful I got to because it would have been a crime of cinema to not see a new Scorsese on the big screen. Netflix needs to know that theatrical exhibition is a viable option for them, so please see it in theaters if you can.”
mondomovies: “…its overlength is sustained mainly by performance with a powerhouse set of principals (plus Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale et al) battling against a lot of unmemorable and somewhat repetitive dialogue (but when it’s good, it’s great), under-dramatised setpieces and a fatally bloated midsection (as in life, so in narrative), much of which is spent in courtrooms.”
Open for discussion. Let’s discuss The Irishman. Do you agree/disagree with my criticism? What did you like and dislike, if anything, about the film?
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?
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.”
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
…. 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..
Netflix plays by its own rules. Google, Facebook, Amazon — all have done the same things in their businesses.
Most of us will not be able to see Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman that opened in very limited theaters this weekend. We’ll have to wait and see it streaming on Netflix on November 27.
The Martin Scorsese-directed drama is screening in only eight theaters this weekend in Los Angeles and New York before it will have a 26-day run in limited theaters. It starts streaming on Netflix on Nov. 27. Typically, major exhibitors insist on 72-day periods of exclusivity before films go on streaming platforms and home video.
According to the Times, representatives of two major theater chains agreed, independently, to lower that number to around 60 days. Netflix said it would not go over a 45-day exclusivity window. On Nov. 8, the movie will play in small movie theaters in the country’s top 10 markets, and it will then roll out to more theaters in the following weeks.
The major studios won’t screen Netflix original movies if they don’t adhere to the theatrical window. Netflix wanted a shorter window, which I have suggested makes sense too.
This also happened with Eddie Murphy’s Dolemite Is My Name ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Very small theater screenings, then open less than a month later on Netflix. Our website is treating these large budget Netflix Original movies just like in the theater movies (as far as reviewing goes, anyway), for what it’s worth.
I think the line between “new in theaters” is becoming increasingly blurred as the big theater chains are forced to play ball with the various streaming services on a reduced theatrical window.
Also, I don’t care much for cinematic elitism, declaring straight to TV movies to be inferior by default simply because they weren’t released in the theaters first. A movie should be judged on whether or not you liked it, were entertained by it, that it was, in fact, a good movie.
Where and when a movie was released only matters in how easy or hard it is to watch it. That is something fair to criticize, but one could argue Netflix is much more accessible than seeing a movie in the theater. I live near a major city (Seattle, WA) and yet am finding some new theatrical release movies difficult to find during their theatrical run.
Yes, I realize there are a lot of truly terrible straight to video/TV movies, but the same can be said for theatrical release movies.
Netflix should be lauded for spending the $159 million to make The Irishman, not shunned because they didn’t do what the theater chain heavyweights tried to ram down their throat. We, as moviegoers, suffer by being denied access to seeing movies like this on the big screen. That’s the true travesty here.
What is truly best for the health of cinema, for the movie theater business as a whole, is butts in the seat. Period.
We see a lot of movies in the theater. In fact, we’ve seen every new movie we could possibly see in the theaters near us since August 2019. We’ve seen many on opening days usually the first or second showing, so those times should reveal higher attendance. Here’s what we’ve noticed:
The theaters have plenty of extra seats.
Beyond the obvious of making the best movie they can, this is the problem filmmakers should be concerned about. How can we make more movies that people will be excited about seeing in the movie theater? It’s true that some of this problem is that the home experience is a big part of why people aren’t going to movie theaters to see the new movies, but I’d argue that if the product is compelling, people will buy. People will go out. They want to use it as date night and social opportunity.
Staying home all the time gets boring. Get out, enjoy the world. Walk, smell the flowers. Life exists outside the cave.
We can debate whether or not certain subgenres and genres are less entertaining than others — that’s been happening for years (horror, romcoms always seem to be cheap targets)–but we cannot argue with the numbers.
Avengers: Endgame is the highest grossing movie of all time. I can’t and won’t comment on whether or not I liked this movie because I’m one of the few who hasn’t seen it yet. But I can comment that just because it is a superhero movie, shouldn’t be reason to discard it as being unworthy. Whether or not everybody liked the movie, or thinks it is art on the level of say, Titanic or Avatar, the two films it is ahead of in the gross sales is irrelevant. It’s #1. Scoreboard.
It drove people to the movie theaters and you know what? I’m grateful it did!
If enough people don’t go to movie theaters, guess what? There won’t be any more movie theaters. Just like what’s happened with drive-in will happen with the movie theater experience.
These directors — of which there is a growing list — are very good at their craft, but they are short term thinking by not realizing that if you kill the goose, you get no more golden eggs. A better way to approach this would not be pushing potential moviegoers (customers!) away from your movies, even though your movies might be in your mind and some others (not me) “cinematically superior,”
And stop making your argument at the same time you’re promoting a new movie. Here’s looking at you Martin Scorsese (The Irishmen opens November 1) and looking at you, Ken Loach.(Sorry We Missed You also opens November 1)
“They’re market exercise and it has nothing to do with the art of cinema. William Blake said ‘when money is discussed – art is impossible’.”
Blake’s quote is a nice sound bite, but it’s unrealistic. You need money in the current world to do just about everything. Star Trek maybe got it right in a future when we have no money, but unfortunately we don’t have Gene Roddenberry’s future here now.
Before you light up the comments with all the many things we can do without money, I know that’s true, yes it’s true. But who is kidding who that these movies are being made for the better of art? Is Scorsese back in school doing an art film? Is Loach making his movie for the better of mankind with absolutely no profit in mind?
This post is a continuation of a really good discussion that a reader, Menkaure IX, and I are having in the Martin Scorsese post linked above. He shared Loach’s link, of which I’m grateful (thank you!) but it annoyed me for the article’s total lack of candor, logic and legitimacy. Loach shouldn’t have taken the interviewer’s bait. He should have taken the high road instead of bashing superhero movies. Dumb.
When two sides have opposing viewpoints, somebody needs to send out an olive branch and say, “hey, let’s talk.” That’s not happening here. What we’re getting is reinforcement on both sides with no level-headed discourse.
When you complain about your competition as not being art and using that as an excuse for people not wanting to see it, that just comes off as sour apples to most reasonable people. Maybe we just didn’t like your art?
And to infer that people aren’t laughing, crying or cheering at superhero movies is ludicrous. Of course they are.
There are a ton of other news articles and bloggers talking about this. Let me take some time and link some other opinions, hopefully some which are taking both sides (I had a hard time finding posts agreeing with the directors, please use the comment area to tell me about those who do, so I can update this post going forward), since mine is admittedly more neutral.
brobible: “One could argue: ‘Who doesn’t love theme parks?'”
Reggie’s Take: “Call me crazy, but if you don’t watch a movie, you really can’t make an honest criticism if a movie is good or bad or in Scorsese’s case a theme park”
Hughe’s Reviews: “Scorsese and co.’s doomsday rhetoric, one that declares the apparent death of cinema, is tiresome.”
Cosmael: “Scorsese and Coppola’s comments are saying that Cinema should be in a certain way and not in the other, and that is where I am afraid because it means that they are not interested in looking in any other form of “arts” and even less to learn from them.”
2offtopic: “Comparing MARVEL movies to theme parks was actually an astute observation.”
The Hobbit Hole: “So we each get to like the movies we like…it’s called living in freedom”
The Maltese Geek: ” The MCU may be its own beast that’s not to their liking, but it’s still definitely ‘cinema’.”
The Grey Area: “Maybe cinema isn’t a fixed approach, but a generational context within which we place the movies that affect us during a given period of time.”
BW Media Spotlight: “…maybe the fans shouldn’t have treated this the same way they did when Roger Ebert make the mistake of saying video games aren’t art “
Screenage Wasteland: “I think anyone who saw Avengers: Endgame will agree that it was an experience completely different than a theme park.”
James Luxford / Metro: “Scorsese is far from the first person to have a problem with the rise in superhero movies.”
Trekkiegeek: “Over 800 films were released in 2018 and out of that the MCU released 3.”
The Avro Post: “The stories may not overtly scream emotion at us, and it’s a slow build to trust the writers, directors and actors with our investments of time, finances and emotions, but the bonds of emotion are, in fact, there,”
Both sides are making some good points, although I admit that the overwhelming number of blogs and social media I’m seeing are negative toward the directors.
My position is let’s have the discussion, just not hurt the business in the process, because that will have negative consequences for the theater experience for every film everywhere.