Martin Scorsese Urges Hollywood To Bring Indie Movies Back To The Big Screen [CinemaCon 2023]

CinemaCon has been going on in Las Vegas all week, with Hollywood's biggest studios and filmmakers showing theater owners of the world what they have coming down the pipeline. Martin Scorsese showed up to debut a first look at his much-anticipated new crime epic, "Killers of the Flower Moon." But the man behind "Goodfellas" and "Raging Bull" didn't just pop by to shill for his big new movie. Ever the champion of cinema, the legendary filmmaker made a strong case for theaters to get behind true-blue indie films.

/Film's own Ben Pearson was in attendance at the event where Scorsese spoke. At one point, the director urged exhibitors to showcase independent films. Not smaller arthouse films made by studios like A24, but truly indie films like Kevin Smith's "Clerks" or Tobe Hooper's "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre," which were made outside the studio system. Here's what Scorsese had to say about it:

"I would love for you to find a way, someone could find a way for smaller independent films — I mean, the really independent films, not just movies with an indie label slapped onto them and put into a category. I would love [...] if they can just find their way back into the multiplexes. Because, this is interesting, to be able to have younger people opt for seeing these films, to go to a theater to see them, to be able to enjoy the theatrical experience again, because it's a comfortable place. It's a welcoming place to go to, to go with their friends, on a screen that's bigger and more emotionally immersive than what they have at home."

Scorsese's case for the future of cinema

While the industry has recovered greatly from the pandemic, smaller films have still struggled to find their place. Outside of superheroes and horror, it's been hit or miss. But things have certainly improved, though it does feel increasingly like the odds are stacked against indie films as Scorsese describes them. But, speaking further, the man made a pretty strong case for why the industry should view these films as a long-term investment, even if they're not huge moneymakers up front:

"It's going to make a difference to the films that you're going to show in your theaters in the next years or so. It depends on how they see these films and how they experience them. The concentration is there. There's a wide screen, it's black all around it. You don't get distracted. I gotta tell you, the way it works, one of these people who was seeing them — whether they're 19 or 15, or 25 — will become artists or novelists, musicians, filmmakers in probably 10 years or so from now, and ultimately one or two just might create the next blockbuster, which will carry movie theaters and by extension, the entire movie industry, through the next crises, and on and on, ad infinitum. So I urge a rethinking view to invest [...] by doing so you will be investing in the future of the cinematic experience for the good of all of us."

A recent example would be this year's surprise micro-budget horror sensation "Skinamarink," from director Kyle Edward Ball. Made for just $15,000, it became a viral sensation and pulled in $2 million at the box office in addition to being acquired by Shudder. Good things can happen when indie films get the support they need.

"Killers of the Flower Moon" is currently set to hit theaters on October 6, 2023.