Martin Scorsese is one of the few filmmakers who has left such an indelible mark. The renowned filmmaker, who will turn 81 this November, is famous for his realistic storytelling and meticulous attention to detail. Indeed, his works of art have repeatedly pushed the limits of cinema.
However, there was a time in his career when he thought about giving up. This thought was brought on by the studio’s unexpected response to what happened to the characters (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon) in his 2006 crime thriller.
Yes, we are referring to The Departed, which paved the way for a whole host of spin-offs, sequels, and streaming series for audiences desperate for new content. In fact, the demand for those sequels was ultimately made by studio executives with a corporate mindset.
Naturally, that was what Scorsese had to deal with while filming his epic crime thriller in 2006.
Martin Scorsese’s Concerns About Hollywood’s ‘Franchise’ Addiction
In a recent interview with GQ, Martin Scorsese was frank about the many challenges faced by studio filmmaking, including the time Warner Bros. allegedly asked him to change The Departed’s ending to keep one of the two leads alive. Why, because they were so committed to the idea of a sequel. To quote the filmmaker:
“What they wanted was a franchise. It wasn’t about a moral issue of a person living or dying.”
Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio starred as the main leads in the 2006 release The Departed, which was a box office hit. Both were determined to find out the other’s identity, and the movie ended with both of its leads dead after a series of twisting and violent incidents.
While the audiences leaving the initial test screenings were ecstatic, Scorsese recalled that people from the studio were
“Very sad, because they just didn’t want that movie.”
He further explained:
“They wanted the franchise. Which means: I can’t work here any more.”
Although he later worked with Paramount to make Shutter Island, the director referred to it as his “last studio film”. Scorsese has never held back when it comes to discussing his opinions on Hollywood’s obsession with making franchise movies, as he stated to GQ:
“The danger there is what it’s doing to our culture, because there are going to be generations now that think movies are only those — that’s what movies are.”
Martin Scorsese Believes Manufactured Content ‘Isn’t Really Cinema’
Martin Scorsese mainly criticized the overabundance of franchise movies that are saturating the theater market and expressed concern about their long-term effects on the public and the film industry.
According to his latest GQ interview, the director admitted that Warner Bros. initially pushed for either Matt Damon’s or Leonardo DiCaprio’s character to continue living so they could advance the plot. At the time, and even now, Scorsese was extremely upset by this.
“We have to then fight back stronger. And it’s got to come from the grassroots level. It’s gotta come from the filmmakers themselves. Go reinvent. Don’t complain about it. But it’s true, because we’ve got to save cinema.”
The 80-year-old director continued:
“I do think that the manufactured content isn’t really cinema.”
The director, who previously gained attention for comparing Marvel movies to theme parks, further clarified to GQ:
“It’s almost like AI making a film. And that doesn’t mean that you don’t have incredible directors and special effects people doing beautiful artwork. But what does it mean? What do these films — what will it give you? Aside from a kind of consummation of something and then eliminating it from your mind, your whole body, you know?”
Do not hold your breath for a potential The Departed sequel.
Mark Wahlberg, who played Staff Sergeant Sean Dignam in The Departed, previously talked to EW about pitching the studio on a sequel with screenwriter William Monahan. The former shared:
“Let’s just say the pitch didn’t go very well. [Monahan] didn’t really have anything fleshed out, but he’s the kind of guy you just trust to go and write something. And so when we were working on the script for Cocaine Cowboys and American Desperado, [I] said, ‘Bill [Monahan], just go write.’ They like to have things well thought out and planned.”
However, due to the cost and Scorsese’s disinterest in producing a sequel, this idea was eventually shelved. Anyway, in addition to receiving praise for its direction and performances, The Departed was also a box-office success.
You can watch The Departed on Netflix.