Warner Bros. wanted Martin Scorsese to franchise The Departed

Warner Bros. wanted Martin Scorsese to franchise The Departed

With Oscars and a huge box office take, Warner Bros. wanted Martin Scorsese to expand the universe of The Departed.

With 2006’s The Departed, Martin Scorsese finally won the Academy Award for Best Director, with the movie also taking home Best Picture, another award that had evaded him for 40 years. And as his biggest worldwide success at the time, it might be no surprise that Warner Bros. wanted a sequel – and beyond. 

As per Martin Scorsese in a terrific new GQ profile, “What they wanted was a franchise. It wasn’t about a moral issue of a person living or dying…And then the studio guys walked out and they were very sad, because they just didn’t want that movie. They wanted the franchise. Which means: I can’t work here anymore.” And The Departed was in fact his last movie with Warner Bros., finding a distribution partner in Paramount for his next four films. And if you’re wondering how Warner Bros. would have concocted a sequel – without going into specific spoilers, it’s a bit of a bloodbath by the end – the studio wanted one of the key characters to survive…and they didn’t even seem to care who!

Despite a filmmaking career that goes back nearly six decades, Martin Scorsese only has one sequel in his oeuvre – and it ain’t The Departed 2: Dignam’s Day Out. It’s actually 1986’s The Color of Money, a sequel to 1961’s The Hustler that found Paul Newman’s Fast Eddie Felson mentoring Tom Cruise’s Vincent. But for the most part, not a single one warrants a sequel, whether as a full-length film or some sort of odd cash-in for a rideshare service…

As for The Departed, perhaps Warner Bros. was aware that the original movie, Infernal Affairs, was turned into a full-blown trilogy and so why not have Martin Scorsese’s film do the same? Of course, that’s part of the problem: not everything needs a sequel and not every successful film has to be turned into a theme park. As it stands, The Departed is one of the best films of Martin Scorsese’s career; it’s not that a sequel would ruin the original (that has always been a weak argument), it’s that its existence is pointless. Oh, and Scorsese isn’t exactly a fan of franchises in case he hasn’t made that abundantly clear…

What are your thoughts on a sequel to Martin Scorsese’s The Departed? Did the director make a good call or could it have worked under the right circumstances?