Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese reflected on the changing cinema industry at the 17th Marrakech International Film Festival.
Rabat – Amidst the launching of a master class series, Martin Scorsese expressed his concerns regarding the future of the cinema industry in a world that is facing an industrial and technological revolution.
“Everyone can make films today,” and routes to finance films can be found, “but no one can see them, theaters are closing,” explained Scorsese at the 17th Marrakech International Film Festival (FIFM).
It is hard to know where the movie theater business is heading in the age of streaming video services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, and Hulu. Today, many cinemas have closed, and the number of moviegoers is decreasing globally as people become resentful of the idea of going to the cinema. Despite all the amenities that a cinema theater can offer, attendance graphs show fewer and fewer people are going to the movies.
“We’re in a second industrial revolution, and I have no idea how the future is going to shape up in terms of visual storytelling to an audience, in a room, with people watching one screen. I know that it’s essential, and we have to fight to keep theatres open as much as possible because it’s a communal experience,” Scorsese argued.
There are countless reasons why many people do not go to the cinema anymore and prefer to watch movies online from the comfort of their home.
First of all, the rise of home video streaming services has widened home entertainment options. Large high-definition televisions, Blu-Ray, and DVD players also allow people to watch what they want, when they want, and in cinema level quality.
Secondly, movie ticket prices and cinema gimmicks have reached record highs. Movie theater concessions have large markups as cinema exhibitors do not make the money they used to in the past. Most of the ticket cost goes to film production companies and film distributors. Cinema exhibitors are obliged to mark-up the price of concessions to keep their cinemas alive and working.
Another reason why people stopped going to movie theaters is because the internet has affected the industry as well. The world wide web has enabled viewers to watch films on their phones and computers.
Unlike opera and theater, cinema has always been the working man’s medium. Everyone was able to afford a ticket. It was the only form of escapism the working class had.
When Scorsese was a child, he was diagnosed with severe asthma. “I couldn’t play sports, I couldn’t run, I couldn’t laugh too much because of the spasms.”
Cinema was the only escape for Scorsese. “We were working class people who didn’t have books in the house, so everything was visual … we couldn’t afford to go to the theater and see the plays by Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller.”
Filmmakers and storytellers like Martin Scorsese help fight xenophobia, racism, intolerance, and populist nationalism.
“If you’re interested in continuing the human species you have to address core issues such as nurturing love, compassion, and understanding other people. Because we now have the power to wipe out mankind. Essentially I keep coming back to these subjects,” said Scorsese.