‘The Banshees Of Inisherin’ Cinematographer Ben Davis On The Importance Of The Film’s Financial Success: “I Look At Where Cinema Is At The Moment, And I’m Concerned” — Camerimage

British cinematographer Ben Davis is an early awards frontrunner for his work on Martin McDonagh’s latest The Banshees of Inisherin, but he told Deadline that his focus remains firmly on the film’s financial performance.

“My priorities with Banshees are I want the film to be good, and I want it to succeed financially,” he told Deadline during a sit-down at the Camerimage film festival in Torun, Poland. “I look at where cinema is at the moment, particularly independent cinema, and I’m concerned. I know a lot of studios are looking, and these films aren’t making the money they did pre-pandemic.”

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Banshees opened to an estimated $181,000 and a per-screen average of $45,250. The film currently sits over $15 million worldwide.

The flick is the third collaboration between Davis and McDonagh. Set in 1923 on the fictional island of Inisherin on the coast of Ireland, the film follows lifelong friends Pádraic (Colin Farrell) and Colm (Brendan Gleeson) who find themselves at an impasse when Colm unexpectedly puts an end to their friendship. A stunned Pádraic, aided by his sister Siobhán, attempts to repair the relationship, refusing to take no for an answer. But Pádraic’s repeated efforts only strengthen his former friend’s resolve, and when Colm delivers a violent ultimatum, events swiftly escalate, with shocking consequences.

As with all of McDonagh’s films, Banshees is anchored by a specifically dark and playful Irish humor that delights throughout. However, the film also carries a deep melancholy, which may surprise viewers just as it surprised Davis when he first picked up the script.

“My first thought was, what’s been going on in Martin’s life? Why is he so upset? Because I hadn’t heard from him for a little while,” Davis joked.

Due to the film’s central premise — two friends no longer talking — there are stretches of silence and minimal dialogue throughout Banshees. A lot of the film’s narrative is instead communicated through visual cues, an aesthetic choice that Davis described as an evolution in McDonagh’s directorial style.

“I think it’s part of Martin’s journey as he matures as a film director,” Davis said. “Whereas before, so much has been about the words and the dialogue, now the visuals have become very much part of his thinking. A lot of it was written into the script.”

Davis was last nominated for a BAFTA for his work on McDonagh’s previous Venice winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, starring Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. Besides his collaborations with McDonagh, Davis is also known for his work in the MCU, lensing films like Chloé Zhao’s Eternals and Avengers: Age of Ultron.  

“I make these big Marvel movies, and the great thing about those is that everybody sees them, and you think, well, great,” he said of his experience in the MCU.

Davis continued to push back against what he described as the frequent criticism Marvel films tend to receive. 

“I would counter that by saying, you may be tired of them, but the audience certainly isn’t if you look at the box office figures,” he said. “I love my local cinema. And I like the guy who runs it. It’s a little independent. And I know his cinema wouldn’t survive without those movies, so I appreciate them.” 

Banshees screened as part of the Camerimage film festival. The event runs through Nov 19.

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