Martin Scorsese clarifies blockbuster 'theme park' comparison, backs streaming to give filmmakers opportunities

Tom Beasley
Martin Scorsese attends ''The Irishman'' red carpet during the 14th Rome Film Festival on October 21, 2019. (Photo by Mauro Fagiani/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Martin Scorsese has added further detail to his recent comments comparing comic book movies and other blockbusters to theme park rides.

The director of The Irishman said he sees the blockbuster environment as a “different cinema form” and said he hopes there will still be opportunities for filmmakers to work outside of that form.

He said he believes it may fall to streaming platforms like Netflix — distributor of The Irishman — to pick up the slack and provide chances for non-tentpole features to be seen by a wide audience.

Read more: Scorsese discusses lack of female characters in his films

Scorsese’s comments have sparked a wide-ranging debate about the dominance of superheroes in Hollywood, with the likes of Ken Loach and Francis Ford Coppola adding their disdain for comic books to Scorsese’s original remarks.

In a new interview with EW, Scorsese said there’s now “very little room” for a project like The Irishman at a major film studio, particularly given its ageing cast and characters.

“The tentpole films, the big comic book films, they’re theme park movies — as well done as many of them are, at all levels,” the 76-year-old said.

“It’s a different cinema form or a new art form entirely. We’re hoping there are theaters that show the films that are not that. And that if they’re not going to show it that filmmakers still have an opportunity with streaming.

Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro on stage for a screening of "The Irishman" on October 6, 2019. (Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images for The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences)

“It changes the experience, but otherwise, in two to three years now, it’s not being done. A good filmmaker comes in from Italy or France comes in, the film has to be a [franchise] or they won’t do it anymore.”

Read more: Scorsese almost directed Joker

Since the director first criticised superhero movies, a number of filmmakers from within the Marvel stable have defended their work, while Disney CEO Bob Iger described the comments as “bitching”.

Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro star in gangster drama 'The Irishman'.

Meanwhile, The Irishman is attracting the best reviews of Scorsese’s illustrious career during its run on the festival circuit.

The movie unites regular Scorsese collaborators Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, as well as bringing in Al Pacino for his first project with the director.

Read more: Scorsese replicated Goodfellas scene to test de-aging tech

It tells the story of hitman Frank Sheeran, played by De Niro, and his involvement with union politics — adapted from Charles Brandt’s 2004 biography of Sheeran, entitled I Heard You Paint Houses.

The Irishman is due to arrive on Netflix worldwide from 27 November.