According to Deadline, the bidding melee for one of Hollywood’s highest profile features is about to end. Apple is likely to win, and the agreements are currently being put on paper, with Paramount due to sign off. ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, the Martin Scorsese-directed film with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in leading roles, will be marketed as an Apple original film, though Paramount will be in charge of its theatrical distribution worldwide.

It had been a while since Paramount had acquired the title from Imperative Entertainment when it allowed Rick Yorn, Scorsese and DiCaprio’s manager, to shop it around a few weeks back. According to several sources, the studio was anxious about a $180-$200 million price tag over an Oklahoma location shoot. On top of that, Paramount’s execs were more interested in the original Eric Roth screenplay than its rewrite. But once the brass allowed Mr Yorn to market the project, every single studio from Universal to MGM and streamers like Netflix and Apple have fought over it.



While some might have expected the streaming rights to go to Netflix, Scorsese’s previous backer for ‘The Irishman’ (2019), it appears that Apple will be the financier and the creative studio for ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, making it a rare instance of a cinematic ‘best of both worlds’. The film will first get a massive release in theatres worldwide through Paramount, after which it will become the biggest title available on Apple’s streaming service. A key priority was for the film to be a large-scale Western—Scorsese, DiCaprio, De Niro and producers Dan Friedkin and Bradley Thomas at Imperative had all agreed on this.

After ‘Greyhound’, the WWII film with Tom Hanks in the lead and as the author of the script, ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is Apple’s second major movie deal. The streamer is obviously beginning to move through the industry and its shifting market, shooting straight for the heavyweights.

The Scorsese-directed drama is based on the eponymous book penned by David Grann, the New Yorker journalist whose non-fiction writings have already crossed over into the cinematic realm with ‘The Lost City of Z’ (2016) and Robert Redford’s exquisite ‘The Old Man and the Gun’ (2018). ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ caught the public eye five years ago, when Friedkin and Thomas outbid everyone and slapped a $5 million price tag on the film rights.

The book unravels the mystery behind a series of murders of Oklahoma’s wealthy Osage Native Americans in the 1920s, after precious oil deposits were discovered beneath their lands—ironically, the tribe had been relocated from Kansas on the assumption that their new home in Oklahoma would yield nothing of value. The investigation that followed virtually established the FBI and became a turning point in the evolution of post-frontier-era America.

Eric Roth of ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994) and ‘Munich’ (2005) fame wrote the screenplay adaptation, with Scorsese and DiCaprio signing on early, while Robert De Niro agreed to join the team later. It’s an important moment in contemporary cinema as Martin Scorsese partners with his two highly acclaimed acting collaborators—notably, De Niro and DiCaprio haven’t had a meaningful gig together since ‘This Boy’s Life’ (1993).