Martin Scorsese says box office obsessions are offensive

Scorsese spoke about the state of cinema attendance at the New York Film Festival premiere of his documentary Personality Crisis: One Night Only.

According to Martin Scorsese, cinema is devalued, humiliated and belittled from all sides. On stage at the New York Film Festival on Wednesday night, the director addressed the state of cinema-going as he introduced Personality Crisis: One Night Only, the New York Dolls documentary he directed with David Tedeschi.

Scorsese made it a point to tout the New York Film Festival at a moment when “cinema is being devalued, demeaned and belittled on all sides, not necessarily the business side, but definitely the arts,” he said. “Since the 1980s, the focus has been on numbers. It’s kind of repulsive. The cost of a film is one thing. Understand that a movie costs a certain amount, expect to get back at least that amount, plus, again. The emphasis now is on numbers, cost, the opening weekend, how much it’s made in the US, how much it’s made in England, how much it’s made in Asia, how much it’s made around the world, how many viewers it had. ”

He continued: “As a filmmaker and as a person who cannot imagine life without cinema, I always find it very insulting. I’ve always known that such considerations have no place at the New York Film Festival, and here’s the key: There are no awards. You don’t have to compete. You just have to love cinema here.”

Scorsese has long been uncompromising about his views on the depressed state of cinema, including his feelings that Marvel films are like “theme parks,” for example. His comments on the New York Film Festival follow a recent essay by Sean Egan in his Sacred Cows column for The Critic, which called the Goodfellas and Departed filmmaker an “unequal talent”. The hiring sparked much controversy and an emboldened defense of Guillermo del Toro.

Those looking for a new Scorsese film may enjoy Personality Crisis — “have all the crises you want for one night,” he said in his introduction — before Killers of the Flower Moon next year appears at Apple.

Watch Scorsese’s introductory comments on the film below. Showtime releases Personality Crisis: One Night Only.

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Lindsay Lowe

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