Exactly 40 years later, and Martin Scorsese is laughing about the poor reception to “The King of Comedy.”
The 1983-released film, which has been critically redeemed as one of the best movies of the decade, was used by Scorsese’s daughter Francesca Scorsese as an example to explain something being “slept on.” Francesca used “The King of Comedy” to teach Scorsese modern slang in a TikTok video.
“People hated it when it came out,” Scorsese said. “No, it was the flop of the year. That’s what it was called on Entertainment Tonight, New Year’s Eve ’83-’84. It’s OK, it’s alright.”
The film followed wannabe stand-up comic Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) who becomes obsessed with a late-night talk show host (Jerry Lewis) and kidnaps him for ransom. “The King of Comedy” directly influenced the 2019 Oscar-winning film “Joker,” which Scorsese executive produced. Both films starred De Niro.
The “Killers of the Flower Moon” writer-director also learned the saying “hits different” with Francesca saying that “watching a movie in 70mm hits different.”
Scorsese replied, “It’s an easy one. You perceive it in a totally different way. Not totally different way, but you see it… It’s another perspective on the image, so to speak, and the effect the film has on the audience.”
Scorsese recently reflected on almost quitting Hollywood after butting heads with the studio system over “Gangs of New York.” He fully parted ways with Warner Bros. after 2006’s “The Departed,” for which Scorsese won the Academy Award for Best Director.
The “Wolf of Wall Street” helmer told IndieWire that indie films are the future of the industry, adding that theaters need to equally promote independent titles so cinemas are not strictly overrun with big-budget studio “action movies.”
“The thing about it is, it would be great to see not only blockbusters on a big screen, franchises on a big screen, but also what they consider now ‘indie films.’ I don’t like that title,” Scorsese said. “I think that categorizes, pigeonholes. I think they’re films for everyone, and I would love to see a support from theaters, particularly, which would make it possible for people to want to come to a theater to see a film that isn’t necessarily a blockbuster that needs a giant screen.”