Academy Award-Winning Filmmaker Says Theaters Refuse To Show His Work

Martin McDonagh, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker who wrote The Banshees of Inisherin, says that theaters won't show his work unless he changes the language in his scripts.

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

colin farrell

It’s a dangerous time for writers, according to Academy Award Winning filmmaker and playwright Martin McDonagh. As Deadline reported, acclaimed British-Irish playwright, McDonagh, is being rejected from theaters because of the language used in his plays. McDonagh calls this a “major problem,” and he’s not alone in that opinion—just this year, political activists have targeted other writer’s works by revising Roald Dahl’s novels and the James Bond books, as well as banning famed children’s writer Judy Blume’s books from a county in Florida.

Despite being a successful writer with the ability to put butts in seats and sell out theaters, Martin McDonagh is being asked to change the script to his play The Pillowman to make it more “palatable” to mainstream audiences. McDonagh says that the “petty outrage” created by anonymous typers on the internet is making the world a “dangerous place” for writers, and he is calling for young writers to get off of social media and “go out and outrage” in order to save the future of their careers.

Martin McDonagh recently appeared at the Oscars ceremony after his film, The Banshees of Inisherin, was nominated for nine Academy Awards. The comedy-drama (that also had some light touches of thriller mixed into the tone) starred Colin Ferrell and Brendan Gleeson as two old buddies who come to an impasse when one of them suddenly and unexplainably ends their lifelong friendship. The film was different from anything that had been on the market before, with heart-touching moments cut in between shocking and disturbing antics from one of the characters.

Martin McDonagh academy award

Martin McDonagh deserved the nine Academy Award nominations that came from the film, and though the film came out of the awards ceremony empty-handed, the movie is still critically acclaimed with 290 total nominations across different awards organizations and 127 total wins, including three BAFTAs.

Prior to Banshees, Martin McDonagh wrote and directed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, another Academy Award-nominated film, and one that actually walked away with two wins—one for Best Actress for Frances McDormand and one for Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell. For someone so accredited, McDonagh says that it is “a frightening time,” and he worries about the future freedom of creativity. 

Others have come forward with similar opinions to Academy Award-winning filmmaker Martin McDonagh. Children’s writer Judy Blume, who recently had her books removed from a reading list in a Florida county, says that the creative censorship is “worse than in the 1980s – it’s become political.”

Recently, Penguin Books caused public outrage when their subsidiary Puffin Books announced that Roald Dahl’s books would be changed and updated to fit the standards of modern-day language. With people on the internet arguing both for and against the update, Penguin announced that the publishing house would print two versions of the books—one that was updated and one that was not.