May 24, 2024

Martin Scorsese has not seen Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” or Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” but that didn’t stop him from celebrating the “Barbenheimer” phenomenon during a recent interview with the Hindustan Times. Scorsese himself has ties to “Barbie,” as it stars and was produced by his “Wolf of Wall Street” breakout Margot Robbie and shot by his longtime cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto. The latter filmed “Barbie” after wrapping up work on Scorsese’s own “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

“I do think that the combination of ‘Oppenheimer’ and ‘Barbie’ was something special,” Scorsese said. “It seemed to be, I hate that word, but the perfect storm. It came about at the right time. And the most important thing is that people went to watch these in a theater. And I think that’s wonderful.”

“Barbie” grossed $1.4 billion to become Warner Bros.’ top box office earner in history. “Oppenheimer” was also a massive hit for Universal with $939 million worldwide, an unheard of sum for a three-hour, R-rated biographical drama. Together, the two blockbusters earned over $2.3 billion.

“The way it fit perfectly — a film with such entertainment value, purely with the bright colors — and a film with such severity and strength, and pretty much about the danger of the end to our civilization — you couldn’t have more opposite films to work together,” Scorsese said. “It does offer some hope for a different cinema to emerge, different from what’s been happening in the last 20 years, aside from the great work being done in independent cinema. I always get upset by that, the independent films being relegated to ‘indies.’ Films that only a certain kind of people would like. Just show them on a tiny screen somewhere.”

Scorsese is far from the only major director to fete “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” in recent weeks. Denis Villeneuve told the Associated Press last month that Nolan’s film approaching the $1 billion mark was a reminder that studio films can be art.

“There’s this notion that movies, in some people’s minds, became content instead of an art form. I hate that word, ‘content,’” he said. “That movies like ‘Oppenheimer’ are released on the big screen and become an event brings back a spotlight on the idea that it’s a tremendous art form that needs to be experienced in theaters.”

Like “Oppenheimer,” Scorsese’s “Flower Moon” is a historical epic with a gargantuan runtime. The Western epic outruns “Oppenheimer” at 206 minutes, which is nearly three and a half hours. Scorsese told the Hindustan Times that he doesn’t want to hear any complaints about the runtime.

“People say it’s three hours, but come on, you can sit in front of the TV and watch something for five hours,” Scorsese said. “Also, there are many people who watch theater for 3.5 hours. There are real actors on stage, you can’t get up and walk around. You give it that respect. Give cinema some respect.”

James Cameron shared similar thoughts when some moviegoers complained about the three-hour runtime of “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

“I don’t want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [television] for eight hours,” Cameron told Empire magazine. “I can almost write this part of the review. ‘The agonizingly long three-hour movie…’ It’s like, give me a fucking break. I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row. Here’s the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: it’s okay to get up and go pee.”

Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” opens in theaters Oct. 20 from Apple and Paramount.

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