Scorsese’s claim that Marvel movies are not ‘cinema’ highlights the gap between the films people want and the ones the film industry, and culture at large, esteems.
This gap reflects a broader alienation between “people” and elite taste-makers across all social spheres.
But… ‘Endgame’ grossed $2.8 billion at the BO, Scorsese’s latest is on Netflix
In the past week, in the New York Times, Martin Scorsese doubled down on his earlier assertion that generic Marvel films are “not cinema” and lamented the failure of studios to take risks.
The question “What is cinema?” advanced by Andre Bazin over 50 years ago, still poses a challenge to complacent assumptions.
How can Scorsese claim that Marvel films are not cinema, when from a commercial standpoint they outperform everything else? What’s more, they do this on such a scale that, in terms of tickets sold and viewing figures – ‘Avengers: Endgame’ earned $2.8 billion at the global box office – other films look insignificant.
To further complicate things, Scorsese’s next film ‘The Irishman’ will not been seen in cinemas – it is barely ‘cinema’ from a nominal point of view. It is a Netflix production, an online streaming experience, shown cinematically at a handful of selected screenings.
The franchise movies are the ones people actually watch in a cinema. Art movies, despite winning Oscars, do badly by comparison.
From ‘Titanic’ to ‘Moonlight’ – decline of the Oscar-winning hit
How did prestige Hollywood productions, Scorsese’s “true” films, become so niche, and why has their place in the cinemas been usurped by colorful adaptations of other media?
This dichotomy did not always exist. There were always mindless blockbusters that were not made for the red-carpet circuit, but until about 20 years ago, the films that won cinema prizes also used to be the ones seen by the most people. For example, ‘Titanic’ was simultaneously a classic cinema story and a blockbuster. Looking at past Oscar winners, such as ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ ‘Forrest Gump’ or even ‘Schindler’s List,’ it’s easy to conclude that the genre of “Hollywood film” coincided with popularity.