THE BIG PICTURE
Martin Scorsese, the acclaimed director with nine Academy Award nominations to his name, has taken a jab at Hollywood’s fixation on churning out film franchises. In a recent candid interview with GQ, Scorsese dropped a bombshell: Warner Bros. once approached him with a proposition to turn his gritty crime thriller, “The Departed,” into a full-fledged movie franchise.
Scorsese’s revelation sheds light on a pivotal moment during the film’s production. Warner Bros. showed a distinct lack of enthusiasm for “The Departed” after a test screening. Their request? A significant alteration to the film’s conclusion, all in the name of crafting a potential franchise. Scorsese, a director known for his artistic integrity, wasn’t pleased with this focus on franchising. He recalls the studio’s plea, saying, “What they wanted was a franchise. It wasn’t about a moral issue of a person living or dying. They wanted the franchise. Which means: I can’t work here anymore.” Intriguingly, “The Departed” turned out to be the film where Scorsese clinched his first and only Oscar.
For those who haven’t experienced the adrenaline rush of “The Departed,” it stars Leonardo DiCaprio as an undercover cop infiltrating the criminal underworld, while Matt Damon plays a mole deeply embedded within the Irish mob. The movie, celebrated for its critical acclaim, culminates in a relentless showdown between these two characters, resulting in their tragic demise.
The turning point came during a test screening that left the audience and filmmakers elated. However, the studio executives’ reaction was starkly different; they were crestfallen because they envisioned something else entirely. Scorsese lamented Hollywood’s fixation on franchising even back in 2006 when “The Departed” was in the making. Remarkably, in recent years, Roy Lee, the executive producer of the film, has teased the idea of a TV series set in the same universe but in a different city. Lee hinted at the possibility, saying, “We were having discussions about making ‘Infernal Affairs’ into a television series. A different city, so it’s not anything like ‘The Departed,’ but essentially ‘The Departed’ as a TV series.”
Scorsese’s journey in the film industry has been marked by a struggle against the traditional studio system. Even in his early years, securing funding for his projects proved to be a Herculean task. Even when he did secure funding, it didn’t always meet investors’ profit expectations. For instance, “Casino,” starring Robert De Niro, fell short of delivering the financial returns investors sought. Scorsese shared their perspective, saying, “they said, ‘We made $60 million’ – this is a paraphrase quote – ‘We made $60 million on that film or something like that in profit. We’re interested in making $360 [million].'” Similar financial woes plagued “The Aviator,” another collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio. Scorsese had to dip into his own pocket to cover the film’s expenses when the studios involved, Warner Bros. and Miramax, allegedly took drastic cost-cutting measures.
Following the disillusioning encounter with Warner Bros. executives during “The Departed” screening, Scorsese directed just one more studio-backed film, “Shutter Island,” featuring DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. Labeling it his “last studio film,” Scorsese has since sought independent funding for his projects, with Paramount handling the theatrical releases.
Now, the veteran director is gearing up for the release of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” starring heavyweights like De Niro, DiCaprio, and Lily Gladstone, scheduled to hit theaters on October 20. The world eagerly awaits what this cinematic maestro has in store for us next.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Franchise Culture
Q: What is the main takeaway from Martin Scorsese’s revelation about ‘The Departed’?
A: Martin Scorsese’s revelation highlights Hollywood’s push for film franchises, as Warner Bros. wanted to turn ‘The Departed’ into a franchise, leading to creative differences and a significant shift in the film industry.
Q: Can you provide some background on ‘The Departed’?
A: ‘The Departed’ is a crime thriller directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. It centers on an undercover cop and a mole in the Irish mob, culminating in a dramatic showdown.
Q: How did Martin Scorsese react to Warner Bros.’ request for a franchise?
A: Scorsese was not pleased with the idea of turning ‘The Departed’ into a franchise. He saw it as a departure from artistic integrity and eventually sought independent funding for his films.
Q: Were there any discussions about continuing ‘The Departed’ story in a different format?
A: Yes, Roy Lee, the executive producer, hinted at the possibility of a TV series set in the same universe but in a different city, although it would have a distinct storyline.
Q: How did Martin Scorsese’s career reflect his struggle against the traditional studio system?
A: Scorsese faced challenges securing funding for his projects and often had to compromise creative control. He experienced financial issues with films like ‘Casino’ and ‘The Aviator’ and eventually turned to independent funding.
Q: What’s next for Martin Scorsese in terms of filmmaking?
A: Martin Scorsese is preparing for the release of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ featuring Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Lily Gladstone, scheduled to hit theaters on October 20.