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Discussion in 'Movies' started by Reggie W, Jul 31, 2018.
Still no "Roma" disc.
There certainly can be other considerations but I don't put cost of a movie ticket down as a big one in this case. A ticket to a Scorsese movie is not more than a ticket to an Avengers film. People vote with their wallet and the pictures people are turning out in droves to see are the franchises, sequels, and family films. It's not a secret, it's not just speculation on my part, it is fact. It's all on the Box Office Mojo page for all to see.
We have slipped back into a period of filmmaking, I believe, where the director and writer no longer matter. Almost nobody goes to a film anymore due to who is directing it or because it is a well written story. So, the financial backers no longer care about these things and so won't spend money on them. Now they will throw great boatloads of cash at effects, sets, costumes and promotion...they prefer this. What is frustrating is they don't have a lot of interest in doing say, the 30 or 40 million dollar drama, or stand alone original film.
I do think today's audience has developed the idea that you go to a cinema for a big effects film and you watch a drama at home. So, this is why Scorsese says they no longer want to make his kind of cinema to be shown in cinemas. Martin Scorsese to today's financial backers is just some TV director. So are the Coens.
The one thing I would disagree with Scorsese about in his comments about comic book films is when he said they are not cinema...cinema is what gets shown in a cinema. I think a better way for him to have put it is, those films are product. They are formulated, homogenized, and packaged to sell as many as possible. They are designed to be the same product again, and again, and again. This is why you don't need a director, writer, or some name actor to make them. You just need the formula.
It's never been a great thing to have someone that is not part of the creative process and is concerned only about the financials telling the creative team how they should change the picture. Now, if you are making a giant effects film that some studio just gave you $250 million to make...yes, you are making their picture, not your picture. Pretty much goes without saying. They don't want to see Martin Scorsese's stamp on their $250 million dollar film. They want to see that film look just like the last film in the franchise or last film of that type that generated nearly a billion dollars in revenue. DO NOT DO SOMETHING INTERESTING OR ORIGINAL.
And really, that is fine in that the fan base for these type of films mostly do not want to see a Martin Scorsese Avengers film either. They want the formula...not some director's take on things. Just look how upset some fans get when Quentin Tarantino talks about doing a Star Trek film or a James Bond film. Not what the fans are looking for.
Sure, some of us think "Wow, I'd pay to see that!" but you know if this happens there will be a great deal of pissing and moaning that Quentin screwed up Star Trek.
Plus $180M seems kind of ridiculous for a gangster drama that sounds like more of a nostalgia reunion for the cast and crew than anything else. I'm not surprised that none of the "cinema" studios wanted to touch it.
Netflix will have to sell a lot of subscriptions to recover that money.
And there won’t be one for the foreseeable future.....or ever.
The obvious counterpoint to that is that the people who choose which films to make and who pay for them are part of the creative team. I refuse to subscribe to this notion that only the director and/or writer are important in filmmaking and that everyone else has nothing to do with anything.
Filmmaking is not a nonprofit venture. The kinds of films that we’re talking about here, whether it’s The Irishman or a Marvel feature, cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make and market. To my way of thinking, it’s absurd to expect anyone to finance that without a) needing some kind of a viable roadmap for how that investment could be recouped and b) wanting to be a voice in the room when it comes to making decisions about that investment.
When those things don’t happen, disaster becomes almost unavoidable, and it’s not to the benefit of the industry when studios can’t afford to keep the lights on. I don’t think anyone would argue that, say, the filmmaking world as a whole is better served with United Artists losing their shirt by spending more than they could ever possibly recover on Heaven’s Gate.
Who would really benefit if the film had been made under its original production and distribution plan, which was not a viable path forward? If Paramount had invested $180 million to produce the movie, theatrical advertising requires at least a spend equal to that to promote a film of that size. So that’s almost $400 million. Then it has to make about 2.5 times that amount to break even theatrically. So over $1 billion just to break even. Oh, and the last wrinkle: today’s theatrical environment only allows about two weeks to recover all of that.
So what’s the more reasonable option? A studio spending money they know in advance that they can’t possibly recover, putting an already shaky company in real danger, while simultaneously ensuring by release method that the people who this movie would most appeal to won’t see it? Or a different kind of studio which aims for a different release platform which allows the investment to be recovered over a long time, taking the financial pressure out of the situation while also guaranteeing that the film immediately finds the audience that would most appreciate it?
I don’t understand why some people believe that a studio should have been obligated to pay for and release this in a fashion that would guarantee a huge, possibly company destroying loss. And I don’t understand why it’s not a good thing that the business has evolved in a way where there is a space for a film of this type to be made and released in a fashion where it’ll find its audience.
And for anyone who thinks that cost of movie tickets plays no factor in an audience’s decision, I just think there’s evidence to the contrary. While films today can break box office records, they’re doing it with fewer tickets sold and more as a result of rising prices. I mentioned this in another thread but in my neighborhood, in a mere four years, the price of a movie ticket has gone up about $5 for standard 2D and $8-10 for premium formats. That increase is far out of proportion to what inflation and wage growth would indicate. To put that in perspective, the cost of four tickets to see the new Star Wars film once (or anything else) would be equal to or more expensive than subscribing to Netflix for one whole year, or Disney+ for two years, or the new Apple streaming service for almost three years. Most of us are on relatively fixed budgets and while going to the movies might not be unaffordable, it simply doesn’t offer the same bang for the buck as it used to for many people. Give most people the choice of “You can pay to see the Irishman in theaters in a two week window at a time not of your choosing, or you can spend the same money on a whole year of a service that includes the same movie that you can watch on your terms,” and to me it doesn’t seem like any kind of mystery why one is a more popular proposition for a lot of folks than the other.
Very true. Factor in people with impressive HD or UHD TVs in their living rooms and/or projectors on a pretty big screen, subtract the hassle of crowds in theaters and the exorbitant costs of popcorn, etc., and it's not hard to see why people are choosing streaming services over theater experiences. It's not like people are staying home to watch pan and scan VHS tapes on a cathode ray set. Personally, I enjoy theaters and I go whenever I can, but with the above costs, plus, in my case, the need for a babysitter (which is a $60 minimum and that doesn't even give us enough time to have dinner; for the Irishman, it would be at least $100 for the babysitter alone), and you can see why I'm planning to see The Irishman at home. If the film is released on 4k/blu-ray, I will certainly buy it, but I can't justify $150+ for a night at the movies.
(PS I know theaters make most of their money from those exorbitant snack prices. I do my best to always buy something for that reason, and let my kids get a treat as well. This usually adds $30 to my trip to the theater.)
I'm not sure whether this thread is for actually talking about THE IRISHMAN itself, but I just got back from the Belasco Theater, and as far as I'm concerned, this is one of the best films I've ever seen in my life. I initially thought the reviews were all hyped up, but now that I've seen the film, I would say they are a bit low key, considering. Also, I wouldn't cut a frame out of the film. The last 90 minutes I was on the edge of my seat. I didn't even think about going to the bathroom. I'm assuming Scorsese didn't put in an intermission because he wanted the film to grow in imapct, and I agree. It's a film you really have to see all at once. As powerful as anything I've ever seen in the cinema. I can't imagine streaming this. This is a film that demands to be seen in a theater. It's an alternative (or perhaps I should say truer) history of the US post WWII from the point of view of the mob. Compared to this, GOODFELLAS seems like THE LADIES' MAN. Also, I think this is DeNiro's greatest performance. I may see it again before it leaves.
I got to meet Apted at a screening of 56UP. He said he has contingency plans for others to complete further chapters if he can no longer do so (recall, Apted himself replaced the original 7UP Director Paul Almond).
As to the Scorsese/Marvel brouhaha: When Scorsese talks about the sameness and predictability it really strikes at the core of his argument. Several think pieces have been written about the lack of consequences -- even death -- in these Superhero films. Agent Coulson is "dead"? Sure, but now we need him to carry a TV series -- bingo, he's back alive. Snyder's Superman has to kill by collateral damage thousands? That's OK - he won the battle.
Half the Avengers are wiped out? Fine, ipso fatso, they'll just invent Time Travel overnight and all (mostly will be reversed).
And, does anybody REALLY believe that we'll never see Iron Man or Wolverine again onscreen?
In the movies that Scorsese reveres, if a character dies nobly to save someone, or for a cause, there was a finality to their death. It stung. It hurt. It meant something.
Now? Hey, the accountants just called...see how much Downey Jr. "needs" to come back (and he will next year in a 'Prequel')
As to the actual topic, here: Scorsese's best since GOODFELLAS. A somber elegiac crime epic.
(more to come)
Of course it is, but we've been talking about the delivery method because it's bound to come up -- and because you appear to be the first person around here who has actually seen it. Or at least, the first one to actually post a comment about it.
Because the Belasco normally houses plays, I've got to ask, what was the experience like seeing a movie in there? How was the attendance? And was there a Playbill? (I kind of expect the answer to this to be "no," but it is screening in a Broadway house, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that they would make something up for it.)
Why would he need to put in an intermission? As with all Netflix movies, the theatrical run is basically a courtesy to the filmmaker in order to make it eligible for Oscars and other awards. Whether or not Scorsese likes it, he knows the vast majority of audiences for this film will find it on Netflix. The simple fact that it is not receiving a wide theatrical release under their model and will be more accessible to more people on Netflix, which he has to be okay with because they financed the movie. So anybody watching it on Netflix can create an intermission whenever they want one by hitting the pause button. I get how it might have come in handy in a theatrical setting, but so few people will even have the opportunity to see it that way that it probably didn't seem relevant.
The Belasco is fairly small house of 1100 seats; intimate & comfortable. The house appeared to be sold out. What I found most surprising is there were a lot of women. The screen looked fairly large in proportion to the theater. I'd say it was around 700 feet. There was no playbill. Lots of applause at the end when Scorsese's name came up. Also, as I was leaving, people who had just seen the film were talking to passerby on the street and waiters & wateriness from the restaurant next door saying how great the movie was. It seems to be getting very positive word of mouth. Last night I dreamed about the film. I can't remember the last time that's happened.
Again, I encourage everyone to see this in a theater if they can. Don't wait. This is not "another Scorsese picture" or "GOODFELLAS Redux".
I've never seen Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino or Joe Pesci do better work. While it's "those same actors and that same plot about the Mob" it's not an exaggeration when I say everything about this film is revelatory. Just seeing DeNiro & Pacino together is amazing. They're like tenor saxmen Lester Young and Hershel Evans in the Count Basie band. Lester was laid back and and cool, with a relaxed tone on the high end of his horn, while Hershel was a honker and screamer, deep and wild. In this film, DeNiro is Lester Young--reserved and stoic, doing most of his acting with his eyes, while Pacino is Hershel Evans, wild and unpredictable, waving his arms around and repeating "It's my union!" like a zen koan. He's never in one place for more than an instant, yet he also possesses an extraordinary gravitas, like KING LEAR crossed with Jerry Lewis. Pacino is so deep into his performance that I didn't realize it was him until the end credits.
Also, I've never seen so many multiple points of view in a Scorsese film before. While Frank Sheeran (DeNiro) narrates the film and we're supposedly seeing what goes on from his viewpoint, what a viewer sees, in particular the glances and expressions of the women in the film, continually undermines his point of view and opens the film up to multiple interpretations, as well as multiple alternative narratives. I just realized this morning that if you look at what happens in the film from Jimmy Hoffa's perspective instead of Frank Sheeran's, it's a completely different film. In particular, there's the perspective of Frank Sheeran's daughter Peggy. While she doesn't say all that much, her glances, which seems to take over the camera whenever she is in a scene, creates a third perspective that I think may be closest to Scorsese's viewpoint.
While there was no playbill, they were handing out a newspaper entitled "The Irishman Daily" dated Friday, August 1st, 1975; with the headline WHERE IS HOFFA? and telling the story of the film with photos of Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci & others identified as the characters they play in the film. The rest of the paper was filled with news items that might have been published on that day, such as MTA raising subway & bus fare to 50 cents and a review of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Tour. Also they gave out a two-sided lobby card, with a scene from the film on one side, and a b&w photo of Scorsese dressed as a Don standing in front of Umberto's Clam House, with the tag line "Time Changes Nothing" under the title.
Here's the man...
I don't think that is an obvious thing at all. Financial backing can come from all over the place and it certainly should not purchase you a say in how the story is told or the ability to tell someone to shorten the film or change the ending or whatever. The backers are investors, they invest in the creative team because they believe in them and then should stay the hell out of the way while the work gets done. They get to choose at the start if they want to buy in after they have heard the pitch, looked at who is on board, and decided if they liked the story. This is how investment occurs in all sorts of business transactions not just the movie business. Financial backers are often silent investors and if you are investing in say a Scorsese picture or a Kubrick picture most of the reason you would be putting your money into that film is, or at least once was, that name. This is how making a film with Netflix works, they look at the project, decide if they like it, if they do they put up the cash and get out of the way while the creative team does their thing.
The real difference now is just that names like Scorsese or Kubrick or whomever now carry far less weight than a name like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, or Star Wars. That's the issue at hand. That second group of names fills theaters, sells popcorn, and makes lots of money. Which is all well and good but the problem is that now that's the golden goose all these financial people want to chase. Can you blame theater owners for wanting more of the kind of film that fills their theaters and sells overpriced popcorn and drinks? Certainly not.
Well, the only people that would subscribe to a notion like that are people that know nothing about filmmaking. Even people like Kubrick always looked for input from the people he was working with. He was not a one man gang. He was not just doing it all himself and he welcomed the voices of his creative team. Costumes, set design, actors, his DP. He had final say but if you came up with an idea he liked he was going to use it. The thing is directors like Kubrick and Scorsese do excite the people they are working with and often inspire them to come up with wonderful ideas...out of the idea that they are working with a Kubrick or a Scorsese or name your director. People raise their game, try harder, and sure get pushed a bit more than if they are working on an assembly line product that is just meant to be one more franchise film.
I think writers have always sort of felt devalued but these days they are barely even required because most of the big budget films don't value writing at all. Most of the scripts for these films could be generated by a computer program that you have fed the formula into. Basically, it's the difference between a drummer and a drum machine. A person can and will suddenly come up with something, a variation or tempo shift or sudden add that is surprising or interesting. A drum machine plays the pattern, generates it over and over. To me on the big budget films they are all pattern and formula. It's boring to me. And those films are all the "financial backer's cut" because they are designed specifically to be like the other film that made money.
Honestly, I think, and really my opinion matters not one jot, this approach to making films is awful.
Solid interview. At least the bulk of it was focused on his movies and not entirely on what he thinks about Marvel movies.
I think they stuck the comic book thing up front in the label because that was/is the hot button thing he had said that has people talking. Most of what he discusses has nothing to do with that, you're quite correct.
Reggie, I’m not going to add anything to your comments because I find it hard to have this conversation honestly with someone who returns to the central thesis, again and again, that all big tentpole movies are the same. I see a wild variety of tone, tempo, story content and execution between the films that Marvel makes. Clearly you do not. But as long as both of us can look at the same work of art and each see it as a completely different thing, there is no common point for us to have a discussion around. You see the end of an art form as decided upon solely by financiers. I see an evolution of an art form that takes into account how changes in technology, availability of content and viewing methodology shift what we choose to watch and where we choose to watch it. We are simply reiterating our earlier points again and again.
This finally opened at my local arthouse and although I have been constantly checking their schedule I didn't realize they were playing it until I went there today to see The Lighthouse and saw the Irishman poster by the door of their biggest screen. I will go see The Irishman tomorrow.
I’ll be seeing it this week too.