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Martin Scorsese: Obsession Over Box Office Is ‘Repulsive’ and ‘Insulting’

Scorsese sounded off on the state of moviegoing at the New York Film Festival premiere of his documentary "Personality Crisis: One Night Only."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13: Martin Scorsese attends a screening of "Personality Crisis: One Night Only" during the 60th New York Film Festival at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall on October 13, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for FLC)

Martin Scorsese

Getty Images for FLC

Cinema is being devalued, demeaned, and belittled from all sides, according to Martin Scorsese. On the New York Film Festival stage Wednesday night, the director sounded off on the state of moviegoing when he introduced “Personality Crisis: One Night Only,” the New York Dolls documentary he directed with David Tedeschi.

Scorsese made a point to tout the New York Film Festival at a moment when “cinema is devalued, demeaned, belittled from all sides, not necessarily the business side but certainly the art,” he said. “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, plus, again. The emphasis is now on numbers, cost, the opening weekend, how much it made in the U.S.A., 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.”

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

Scorsese has long been unapologetically vocal about his views on the depressed state of cinema, including his feelings that Marvel movies, for example, are like “theme parks.” His New York Film Festival comments come on the heels of a recent essay by Sean Egan in his Sacred Cows column for The Critic that labeled the “Goodfellas” and “Departed” filmmaker as an “uneven talent.” The take generated plenty of controversy and a heartened defense from Guillermo del Toro.

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

Watch Scorsese’s introductory comments for the movie below. Showtime will release “Personality Crisis: One Night Only.”

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