Scorsese: Streamers & AMPAS To “Work It Out”

The likes of Steven Spielberg and Steven Soderbergh have weighed in on the streaming vs. theatrical release debate, and now another filmmaker with a surname beginning with S and a vested interest in all this has briefly offered some thoughts – Martin Scorsese.

The “Silence” and “Goodfellas” director filmed “The Irishman” for the service with the plan for the big-budget gangster drama to be out in October sometime. What kind of release it will get however is being seen as the next big battlefront in the so-called ‘war’.

Vanity Fair caught up with Scorsese recently and asked him about it. Interestingly one big point that bugs him is the label ‘content’ which can be applied to all forms – films, TV series, shorts, etc. – and he’s not a fan of that: “It seems to level everything, and cinema’s special. What’s the difference, then, between an Almodóvar film, ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ [and] an instructional video?”.

He admits upfront that the reason he joined up with Netflix was two key things – they provided money and freedom. He also weighed in on the Academy vs. Oscars debate which arose sharply after “Roma” almost won the Best Picture Oscar:

“They’re gonna work it out. I want people to be patient with them, because they need to try different things… argue it out, because it makes you think, ‘What is a film? And how should a film be presented, especially in a new world?’ I think the cards are stacked for the big budget, and that’s a problem.”

“The Irishman” is set to be released in cinemas and on Netflix later this fall, while his Bob Dylan doco “Rolling Thunder” hits Netflix in June. The comments come as “Roma” has been set for a Chinese theatrical release on May 10th with the film set to be shown on approximately 3,900 cinema screens.

He’s not the only filmmaker to talk about it lately either as “Avengers: Endgame” co-helmer Joe Russo told CNBC (via Deadline) this week that the big race to watch in the streaming wars is going to be Disney+ versus Netflix:

“Netflix is at volume, and they have to get their volume to quality. Disney is at quality, and they’ve got to get volume. It’ll be interesting to see who achieves their goal first, because that will determine market dominance.”

He also adds that Apple is the only wildcard but they won’t be heavily involved: “unless Apple throws their hat at the content game much more significantly than what they’ve already done.” He’s also not worried about the cinema vs. streaming war:

“We’re talking about trillion dollar companies using content as a branding tool. Some say the death knell for theatrical is streaming, but [“Endgame”] is proof that they are supercharging each other.”

The Russos’ “Avengers: Endgame” is in cinemas now.