Back in 2019, storied filmmaker Martin Scorsese famously tweeted out his disappointment with the trajectory of the film industry, singling out superhero movies in particular and labeling them as “closer to theme parks than they are to movies.” Part of his frustration came from how the market is mainly drawn to franchise films nowadays, leaving little space for more individualized films, which happen to be Scorsese’s bread and butter.
His comments came around the same time of the release of his latest film, the quite-individualized The Irishman, a three-and-a-half-hour epic crime drama that follows a truck driver-turned-hitman named Frank (Robert De Niro) recounting a life of working for the Bufalino crime family, as well as the influential Jimmy Hoppa (Al Pacino). Like a great number of Scorsese’s films, it was met with critical acclaim and was nominated for countless accolades, despite not walking home with any.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, part of Netflix’s recent shift in philosophy to their film approach includes the axing of expensive “vanity projects,” of which the $175 million budget The Irishman was listed as an example, also noting a comment from one source, saying, “This tendency to do anything to attract talent and giving them carte blanche is going away.”
Twitter eventually caught wind of The Irishman being labeled as a vanity project, which kicked up an incredibly one-sided debate over whether it’s fair to call The Irishman a vanity project.
Some users understandably felt that the label was demeaning.
Others pointed out that maybe Netflix is the problem.
For fans, it was especially a slap in the face to see The Irishman receive that label when, in their eyes, many other films were far more deserving of being dubbed “vanity projects.”
It seems like this was another misstep for Netflix, who hasn’t found the greatest foothold when it comes to public opinion this year. To single out The Irishman was a strange move, and Twitter was having absolutely none of it.
Scorsese’s next project is the Leonardo DiCaprio-led Killers of the Flower Moon, which is set to release in November later this year.