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Martin Scorsese Is in No Rush to See ‘Joker,’ Nearly Quit Filmmaking After ‘The Aviator’

Scorsese grew frustrated by battling studio heads, but he's about to return to the studio world with "Killers of the Flower Moon."

Martin Scorsese'The Irishman' film premiere, Arrivals, TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Oct 2019

Martin Scorsese

Rob Latour/Shutterstock

Ahead of the Golden Globes kicking the final full month of awards season into overdrive, The New York Times has published a lengthy profile of Martin Scorsese, a Globe nominee for Best Director and a near-lock to earn a nomination in the same category at the Academy Awards. Scorsese is a contender this year for “The Irishman,” his $160 million crime epic that was produced and distributed by Netflix. The director chose the streaming platform because no Hollywood studio would give him the budget required to make “The Irishman,” but it’s not as if Scorsese was eager to make his latest film under the watchful eye of studio heads.

New York Times reporter Dave Itzkoff writes that in the decade that followed “Casino,” Scorsese became “drained” by working for Hollywood studios because the director “inevitably found himself butting heads with studio executives who wanted the running times shortened.” It appears tensions between Scorsese and the studio world reached a peak during the making of “The Aviator,” the director’s 2004 Howard Hughes drama that was co-produced and distributed in the U.S. by Warner Bros.

“The last two weeks of editing and mixing ‘The Aviator,’ I said if this is the way you have to make films then I’m not going to do it anymore,” Scorsese said, revealing a moment in time he got close to leaving the filmmaking world behind. “It’s like being in a bunker and you’re firing out in all directions. You begin to realize you’re not speaking the same language anymore, so you can’t make pictures anymore.”

Scorsese started turning to independent financiers in order to maintain control over his movies in the future, and with “The Irishman,” he was given full control by Netflix. The director clearly has aversions to working with Hollywood studios but he is returning to that world nonetheless with his next feature, the Paramount-backed “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

The New York Times also asked Scorsese about rival Oscar contenders he loved this year. The director singled out Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” as a favorite. As for “Joker,” the revisionist comic book drama Scorsese passed on directing and producing because of his “Irishman” duties, Scorsese has yet to see it and doesn’t appear to be in a rush to do so. Scorsese is aware “Joker” uses his films “Taxi Driver” and “Means Streets” for creative and storytelling inspiration. The director said, “I saw clips of it. I know it. So it’s like, why do I need to [see it]? I get it. It’s fine.”

“The Irishman” is now streaming on Netflix. Head over to The New York Times’ website to read Scorsese’s profile in its entirety.

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