Apple teaming with Paramount on ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

Brandy McDonnell The Oklahoman
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Variety reports that Paramount has recruited Apple to assist in making Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of the Oklahoma-set story “Killers of the Flower Moon” a reality.

The trade publication reports that Paramount still will distribute the film version of David Grann’s bestselling true-crime novel, with Apple joining to finance the project as well as act as the movie’s creative studio.

According to Variety, the deals have not yet closed but are likely to be inked in the coming days.

As previously reported, Paramount Pictures closed a deal last year to finance and distribute the fact-based film. But The Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the matter,” reported last month that the budget for the project has ballooned to close to $200 million, prompting Scorsese’s representatives to enter talks with Netflix, Apple and others in search of another company to take on part of the financial burden.

While there was a time when a move to a streaming service was a possibility, Variety cites sources close to the director that he always envisioned that “Killers of the Flower Moon” as a theatrical release, with his representatives worked to keep it a big-screen project.

As previously reported, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is to film in the Sooner State and star two of the filmmaker’s frequent collaborators, Oscar-winning actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

Principal photography on “Killers of the Flower” was anticipated to begin in summer in Oklahoma on the high-profile project, which is expected to usher in a new era of filmmaking in the Sooner State. Early stages of pre-production and development have already begun in Osage County. Of course, with the coronavirus pandemic, who’s to say when filming actually will be able to start.

Variety reported Wednesday that while deals are expected to be finalized soon for all the players, a production start date is still undetermined for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” especially considering DiCaprio’s schedule.

While the studio and producers were working out what to do with “Killers of the Flower Moon,” DiCaprio was considering various projects to do before the Oklahoma film, including Oscar winner Adam McKay’s (“The Big Short”) next title for Netflix. That movie also stars Jennifer Lawrence, and Variety reports it could possibly go into production before “Killers of the Flower Moon” if DiCaprio inks that deal.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is a significant deal for Oklahoma’s film industry. The film is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Grann, the best-selling author of “The Lost City of Z” and “The White Darkness.” “Killers of the Flower Moon” chronicles the mysterious murders of Osage Nation citizens, who in 1920s Oklahoma became the center of a major FBI investigation involving J. Edgar Hoover.

“I think it’s so great that they’re going to be filming here, that they’ve had auditions for the Osage and for other Native American actors to be a part of it,” Grann said in a February interview in OKC.

“Oklahoma’s become my home away from home. I think I’m here more than anywhere else other than in New York. … When I wrote the book, part of it was to hopefully make sure that this history is part of our consciousness. Because for so many people —- and I include myself — we had essentially excised this very important history. So, being back in Oklahoma and sharing that history, continuing to do that, is really important me.”

As previously reported, although they are both frequent collaborators of Scorsese, “Killers of the Flower Moon” will mark the first of his feature films that will star DiCaprio and De Niro together. They both appeared in Scorsese’s 2015 short film “The Audition,” in which they portrayed fictionalized versions of themselves.