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Could 'The Wolf Of Wall Street's' Success Slow the Death of Grown-Up Cinema?

Posted: 28/08/2013 00:00

For the past 30-years, studios have been reluctant to throw big money at any kind of subject matter which doesn't involve superheroes, and people slowly walking away from massive explosions.

This distrust of audiences' intelligence is of course nonsense and can be dispelled by the hugely popular and totally uncompromising adult content found on American television, particularly on subscription channel HBO.

But, while cinema's loss is TV's gain, there are still some great filmmakers, who are clinging onto the hope that the industry will revert back to the golden age of the 1970s, where the director was king and audiences were continually challenged by a plethora of classics.

One such filmmaker is Martin Scorsese, who despite presiding over some of the finest movies ever made, still struggles to get big projects made.

The Oscar winner's next film, The Wolf of Wall Street, which is based on stockbroker Jordan Belfort's memoir, was rejected by major studios because of its adult subject matter.

Indeed, the project's co-producer and star Leonardo DiCaprio, eventually found funding through ambitious production company Red Granite, which enabled Scorsese to come on board after several years of stalling.

While speaking with Vulture magazine, DiCaprio said: "I told Marty, 'I don't think we'll be able to do a movie like this too many times in the future. Larger-scale, R-rated dramas, like Blood Diamond or The Departed, don't really get financed anymore."

What is interesting about the film, is not just the talent involved - the script was adapted by Boardwalk Empire creator Terrence Winter - but the sizeable $100-million budget.

The trailer is utterly fantastic and is reminiscent of Scorsese's last 'great' film Goodfellas (1990); a style, involving fast editing and voice-over, which he has successfully recycled in movies such as Casino (1995) and The Departed (2006).

Also, the November release date, almost certainly indicates an Oscars' push, meaning producers and Paramount Pictures, who are distributing the film, must be confident of a critical success.

The news that Scorsese, and DiCaprio for that matter, still have to beg to get their projects made, may come as a surprise to some.

But the current dumbed down state of the mainstream has been a gradual process ever since Michael Cimino bankrupted United Artists with Heaven's Gate (1980). That failure effectively shut the door on that golden chapter of American cinema which brought us The Godfather (1972), Chinatown (1974), and The Deer Hunter (1978), to name but a few.

Scorsese's career, like many other filmmakers, was directly affected by the excesses of Cimino and others.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the Raging Bull director struggled to find his identity amidst the new era of blockbuster cinema.

Despite the odd classic, such as King of Comedy (1983) and Goodfellas, it was only until Scorsese teamed up with young star DiCaprio (who had been recommended by collaborator Robert DeNiro) that the legendary filmmaker started to make waves at the box-office.

In fact, The Departed, The Aviator (2004) and Shutter Island (2010), which all star DiCaprio, are the director's three highest grossing movies ever.

For the last ten years, Scorsese has dabbled in genre films in order to secure bigger funding, and even made his first family movie, Hugo (2011), which was released in 3D.

Now, with Wolf of Wall Street, the director finds himself back where he belongs; unburdened by studio interference he has been able to make a 'Scorsese' picture with a budget which matches his ambitions.

If the film is a massive commercial success, then it could serve as a rare victory for art house cinema and in turn increase the potential for more big budget projects specifically aimed at adults.

 

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