Martin Scorsese, who teamed with Netflix to unveil his long-time passion project “The Irishman”, has signed with another streaming platform to help bring his next offering to fruition.
“Killers of the Flower Moon”, which will star Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, will be distributed by Apple and Paramount. The streamer will have the digital streaming rights, Paramount will release the film in theaters.
Based on the book by David Grann, the pic will fix on the murders of wealthy Osage people that took place in Osage County, Oklahoma in the early 1920s—after big oil deposits were discovered beneath their land. After the Osage Native Americans are awarded rights in court to the profits made from oil deposits found on their land, the Osage people prepare for receiving the wealth to which they believe they are legally entitled from sales of their oil deposits.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, while the film will still cost a big load of moolah to make (and set back Apple $200m to acquire), the project has been scaled back.
After Imperative Entertainment bought the rights to Grann’s book in 2016, DiCaprio and Scorsese joined the project and it was shopped to Paramount. But the studio wanted the budget — then about $180 million with a tax credit from New Mexico — pared down to about $150 million. No one actually believed that Scorsese actually would have stuck to that number but at least it would have let studio execs fantasize that costs might be kept in check.
Sources say things changed when the director and his star decided to revise the script. Originally DiCaprio was playing the good guy working for the then-nascent FBI. In the revised version, DiCaprio would portray villain Robert De Niro’s nephew, torn between love and the evil machinations of his uncle. A source with knowledge of the situation says Paramount felt that turned the film into a moody and less commercial character study — “smaller scale; same budget.”
Apple is now pay for the film itself.
Now Apple is not only paying the budget in full but says it will be the “creative studio” on the project, which means executives there will get a first-hand sense of the complete impossibility of controlling Scorsese. Note that AppleTV+ chiefs Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht are television guys without film experience.
The movie will get a full theatrical release around the world, presumably with a standard window (though the definition of standard window could change by the time the movie is finally made). Paramount will front marketing costs, but Apple will make sure it gets all that money back either from its share of box office or, if necessary, by making up any shortfall. Apple will also cover costs associated with developing the movie.