“New York, New York” earned less than $14 million at the box office, making it a costly flop. Moreover, it marked the first time that the critics had turned against him. The asthmatic director responded by doing even more cocaine, endangering his already frail health. Still, two years after he shot it, he managed to complete “The Last Waltz.”
Scorsese’s exhaustion in the aftermath of “New York, New York” had led a lot of his friends to be alarmed about his health, he recalled, but he ignored their concerns until one day in September 1978 when he suffered what he called “a total collapse.” He coughed up blood, blacked out, and was hospitalized. He’d suffered an adverse reaction to a mixture of cocaine and asthma medication. He almost had a stroke.