Martin Scorsese Films Ranked by Box Office Aren’t What You’d Expect
ManOfTheCenturyMovie News Martin Scorsese Films Ranked by Box Office Aren’t What You’d Expect

Martin Scorsese Films Ranked by Box Office Aren’t What You’d Expect

Martin Scorsese Films Ranked by Box Office Aren’t What You’d Expect

As “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Paramount) debuts in theaters ahead of streaming on Apple, critics are ranking their favorite Scorsese movies. Looking at the auteur’s 26 films by their adjusted box-office gross, it’s a very different outcome.

“Flower Moon” will probably not make Scorsese’s top 10. It’s expected to place in the middle third of the director’s films with a domestic gross projected at up to $100 million. To be one of his 10 highest, it would need to surpass $104 million.

Five of the director’s seven biggest hits came in this century, the most recent being 2013’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Four of his top five star Leonardo DiCaprio including “The Departed,” the director’s biggest hit (both adjusted and unadjusted) as well as his sole Best Picture winner.

Adjusted, here is the box-office order for Scorsese’s 26 feature releases. (Excluded are his two concert documentaries.)

Related Stories
‘Old Dads’ Review: Bill Burr’s Directorial Debut Is a Hacky Netflix Comedy About Raising Kids in a Changing World
(Clockwise from left): "No Country for Old Men," "The Power of the Dog," "Killers of the Flower Moon," and "The Hateful Eight"
The Best Modern Westerns, from ‘The Power of the Dog’ to ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ to ‘The Hateful Eight’

1. The Departed (Warner Bros.) 2006 – $211 million ($132 million unadjusted)

2. Cape Fear (Universal) 1991 – $198 million ($79 million unadjusted)

3. The Aviator (Miramax) 2004 – $174 million ($103 million unadjusted)

4. Shutter Island (Paramount) 2010 – $167 million ($128 million unadjusted)

5. The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount) 2013 – $152 million ($117 million unadjusted)

6. The Color of Money (Disney) 1986 – $146 million ($52 million unadjusted)

7. Gangs of New York (Miramax) 2002 – $140 million ($78 million unadjusted)

8. Taxi Driver (Columbia) 1976 – $139 million ($28 million unadjusted)

9. GoodFellas (Warner Bros.) 1990 – $117 million ($47 million unadjusted)

10. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (Warner Bros.) 1974 – $104 million ($19 million unadjusted)

11. Casino (Universal) 1995 – $102 million ($43 million unadjusted)

12. Hugo (Paramount) 2011 – $98 million ($74 unadjusted)

13. Raging Bull (United Artists) 1980 – $91 million ($23 million unadjusted)

14. The Age of Innocence (Columbia) 1993 – $81 million ($32 million unadjusted)

15. New York, New York (United Artists) 1977 – $77 million ($16 million unadjusted)

16. Bringing Out the Dead (Paramount) 1999 – $35 million ($17 million unadjusted)

17. After Hours (Warner Bros.) 1985 – $32 million ($11 million unadjusted)

18. New York Stories (Disney) 1989 – $28 million ($11 million unadjusted)

19. The Last Temptation of Christ (Universal) 1988 – $22 million ($9 million unadjusted)

20. Mean Streets (Warner Bros.) 1973 – $17 million ($3 million unadjusted)

21. Kundun (Disney) 1997 – $13 million ($6 million unadjusted)

22. Silence (Paramount) 2016 – $9 million ($7 million unadjusted)

23. The Irishman (Netflix) 2019 – $9 million ($8 million unadjusted, estimate)

24. The King of Comedy (20th Century-Fox) 1983 – $8 million; $2 million unadjusted)

25. Boxcar Bertha (AIP) – 1972 $8 million ($1 million unadjusted)

26. Who’s That Knocking at My Door (Joseph Brenner) 1969 – unknown, likely below $1 million

Box-office success is not unrelated to quality, but as an arbiter it’s utterly unreliable. It can also be separate from profitability, not to mention intangibles like why studios back films. Reasons beyond money include top actors’ interest (a major boost for Scorsese in his career) or desire for awards. Of Scorsese’s last 15 films, 14 were released in the fourth-quarter awards corridor.

Robert Deniro in
“Cape Fear”MCA/Everett Collection

The #2 title, “Cape Fear” is rarely mentioned as one of his best films. Its Metascore of 73 puts it in the bottom third of his ouevure, although it received two Oscar acting nominations.

“The Aviator” rode the awards wave as a late-year favorite to win Best Picture with DiCaprio leading a top cast. “Shutter Island” also starred DiCaprio and overcame low-end reviews (63 Metacritic). Paramount smartly positioned it as a February release: It had an adjusted opening of over $50 million, and more than tripled its gross in its full run.

Surprisingly, Scorsese doesn’t have a history of impressive Cinemascores. Only two were above B+ with “The Departed” and “GoodFellas,” both A-. “Shutter Island,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and “Bringing Out the Dead” were below B-.

None of his films has ever been among the top 10 releases of their year. “The Color of Money” starring Paul Newman and Tom Cruise is the closest as the #12 gross of 1986.

Some surprises on the list include “Taxi Driver” at #8, ahead of #9, “GoodFellas.” That film had to compete with “Dances with Wolves,” which came out at Christmas and grossed four times as much.

ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, Kris Kristofferson, Ellen Burstyn, 1974
“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”Courtesy Everett Collection

“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” at #10 is impressive. Along with “Taxi Driver,” it may be his most profitable film. And though not placed high in most Scorsese listings, the 1974 “Alice” scored the first Oscar for a Scorsese title, with Best Actress Ellen Burstyn.

His first Best Actor winner was DeNiro in 1980’s “Raging Bull,” which was considered a box-office flop as an $80 million budget with a $91 million domestic gross (all figures adjusted). It was particularly disappointing coming after the also-unprofitable “New York, New York.” It took “Color of Money” for Scorsese to be considered a commercially viable director again. Since then, he’s had more hits than misses although #12 “Hugo,” his most expensive film backed by a traditional studio, also was a substantial loss.

Wherever “Flower Moon” figures into this list, its release comes at a time when success is judged differently. The production cost is $200 million, a figure that made Paramount balk — but for Apple, with 2022 revenue of $394 billion, even as a total loss it would represent an amount that would struggle to be viewed as a rounding error.

Related Post