Killers of the Flower Moon

After delivering the epic crime drama The Irishman last year and earning Netflix no less than 10 Oscar nominations, as well as a slew of other accolades, director Martin Scorsese is still having trouble finding funding for his next movie.

Killers of the Flower Moon is slated to be the next film that Martin Scorsese directs. Paramount Pictures was slated to finance and distribute the movie starring Scorsese’s frequent collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, but with the budget of movie rising to more than $200 million, the studio opted to let the filmmaker take the project elsewhere. Now Scorsese is hoping Netflix, Apple or another company with deep pockets can help him get the movie off the ground.

For those who don’t know, Killers of the Flower Moon is based on David Grann’s book of the same name. Through comprehensive research, the journalist tells the true story of the grisly murder of oil-rich Osage Nation Native Americans in Oklahoma back in the 1920s, including the poor handling of the case by the recently formed FBI led by a young J. Edgar Hoover. What they eventually uncovered was “one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.”

Sounds like an enticing story, one that is deep in the roots of violence and corruption in the history of the United States, something Scorsese has chronicled very well over the years in a variety of ways, including last year’s The Irishman.

Funnily enough, this is the same situation Martin Scorsese found himself in with The Irishman, which was also originally set up at Paramount Pictures before the film’s budget became too high for the studio’s taste. Their loss was Netflix’s gain, and even though they didn’t end up with any of the 10 Oscars the film was nominated for, it made them an even bigger player during awards season and earned them acclaim and street cred with other big name filmmakers struggling in the studio system.

However, the problem Scorsese may run into now is that a lot of studios, financiers, and distributors are tightening their belts in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Paramount Pictures was balking at the estimated $200 million before the worldwide health crisis kicked into full gear, and there’s no way they can afford it now. The studio could still end up being involved with Killers of the Flower Moon, but it would likely include an additional partner to share the load. So who is Scorsese meeting with?

The Wall Street Journal says Scorsese has met with streamers like Netflix (which was rumored back in February) and Apple, both of which would likely still give the movie a theatrical release. The director has also spoken with standbys like Universal Studios and MGM about coming aboard the project. But anyone who comes on board the project has to deal with Paramount and will have to help them pay for what they’ve already invested in the movie. Perhaps if Netflix or Apple come on board, Paramount can help with theatrical distribution, but only if they’re willing to play nice with the traditional theatrical window. As we saw with The Irishman, that’s not too likely for Netflix.

Honestly, it’s such a bummer that a director like Martin Scorsese is having trouble getting a film made. Granted, $200 million is a lot of money to spend on an adult drama these days, but it’s also from one of the finest filmmakers in the history of cinema. Let’s not forget the movie also has two of the biggest movie stars of all time, each having made incredible movies with Scorsese multiple times, often earning many awards and accolades. These kind of movies are just as essential as the big blockbusters, but they don’t bring in the kind of box office the studios will desperately need after the coronavirus pandemic is through.

For now, we’ll just have to hope someone has the cash to let Martin Scorsese get this movie off the ground. At 77 years old, we’re not going to have his genius for a lot longer, especially with all the partying he’s doing with Jonah Hill. So maybe just let him do whatever he wants to behind the camera.

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