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Martin Scorcese applauds Barbie and Oppenheimer's Barbenheimer phenomenon as a cinematic "perfect storm"

Comic book movies aren't Martin Scorsese's cup of tea, but Barbie and Oppenheimer's domination of the 2023 summer box office gets a pass.

Image credit: Warner Bros. Studios

The entire Martin Scorsese-Marvel discourse cycle seems to repeat itself every few months now, and everyone on the Internet always has very strong opinions on the matter. Meanwhile, the 80-year-old director is simply stating time and again that an unchecked homogenization of theatrical exhibition could damage the art of cinema in the long run, as newer generations might find it harder to have a first contact with other types of movies.

The latest instance of the veteran filmmaker being asked about the matter of big franchises versus smaller movies that may not get the attention they deserve has come through an interview for Hindustan Times while promoting Apple TV+ and Paramount Pictures' Killers of the Flower Moon, which opens on October 20 in cinemas before expanding to streaming. The entire article is well worth a read if you're into his legendary career and want to learn more about his enduring relationships with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, but perhaps his comments on Barbie and Oppenheimer's stunning box office performances this summer are the most surprising.

He started by saying he thought the combination of two wildly different big productions was "something special" before stating the resulting phenomenon was a "perfect storm" that "came about at the right time." His connection to Barbie is kind of obvious, as his 2013 movie The Wolf of Wall Street was the project that elevated Margot Robbie to Hollywood's upper echelon. But of course, the surprising live-action adaptation of Mattel's famous doll felt so special because of Oscar-nominee director Greta Gerwig was behind the pink driving wheel. As for Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer, Scorsese also appears to be a big fan of his body of work for obvious reasons.

His words this time around also underline how he values big-budget entertainment as long as there's some variety to it and the craftmanship shines through: "The way it fit perfectly - a film with such entertainment value, purely with the bright colours - and a film with such severity and strength, and pretty much about the danger of the end to our civilisation - you couldn't have more opposite films to work together."

If we had the chance, we'd like to ask Scorsese about the upcoming "swiftie sweep" coming this month as Taylor Swift's concert movie The Eras Tour injects some life into a box office that feels abandoned by the major studios following the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes and until Five Nights at Freddy's and The Marvels show up.