Paramount had long ago optioned the project from Imperative Entertainment, but in recent weeks had allowed Scorsese and DiCaprio’s manager Rick Yorn to shop it around. Sources said that the studio was nervous about a price tag of $180 million to $200 million after-tax credits from an Oklahoma location shoot, and studio brass liked the original Eric Roth draft better than the rewrite. Once Paramount allowed Yorn to take it to market, every studio from Universal to MGM and streamers including Scorsese’s The Irishman backer Netflix and Apple, have been chasing.
At 78 years old, Martin Scorsese is tackling one of his most ambitious film projects yet with “Killers of the Flower Moon.” The filmmaker’s follow-up to his 10-time Oscar nominee “The Irishman” and his first collaboration with Apple Films, “Flower Moon” brings Scorsese into the Western genre for the first time and reunites him with some of his most prolific actors and crafts collaborators (yes, of course Thelma Schoonmaker is editing).
We are thrilled to finally start production on ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ in Oklahoma,” Scorsese said in a statement announcing the official start of production April 19, 2021. “To be able to tell this story on the land where these events took place is incredibly important and critical to allowing us to portray an accurate depiction of the time and people. We’re grateful to Apple, the Oklahoma Film and Music Office and The Osage Nation, especially all our Osage consultants and cultural advisors, as we prepare for this shoot. We’re excited to start working with our local cast and crew to bring this story to life on screen and immortalize a time in American history that should not be forgotten.”
Scorsese continued, “It’s so interesting to think about the mentality that leads us to this. The history of civilization goes back to Mesopotamia. The Hittites are invaded by another people, they disappear, and later it is said that they have been assimilated or, rather, absorbed. It is fascinating to see this mentality which is reproduced in other cultures, through two world wars. And which is therefore timeless, I think. This is the film that we are going to try to make.”
The funding has been shifted from Paramount to Apple due to logistical factors. But Apple has not assigned an official release date for “Killers of the Flower Moon” yet. Production kicked off in late April 2021 and is expected to last through the summer. There’s a chance the film could be ready for a December 2021 holiday release depending on how fast Scorsese and his longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker can deliver a cut, but it’s also likely the movie gets released in 2022.