Martin Scorsese is keeping it digital despite being one of the biggest supporters of the cinematic experience. After his last film, The Irishman, came to Netflix garnering rave reviews and awards nominations, the legendary director is now taking his skills to Apple TV+. Apple won a bidding war over the film, Killers of the Flower Moon, which will now be distributed in theaters by Paramount before coming exclusively to Apple’s streaming service.
The movie is set to star longtime Scorsese collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. It is based on the book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI and has an adapted screenplay from Eric Roth, which underwent rewrites once Scorsese came on board. The book tells the true story of a series of murders of Osage Native Americans after their land was found to have oil deposits under it. The investigation that was triggered helped to establish the FBI. It also sounds right up the alley of Scorsese, whose bread and butter is historical crime thrillers.
Originally Paramount had the option for the film, but executives there got scared of an inflating budget that would have cost them $180 to $200 million. Once the studio gave permission to shop the project around, there was intense interest from traditional studios and streamers, including Netflix. However, Apple came in aggressively and landed its second major motion picture of the year after scooping up Tom Hanks’ Greyhound earlier this month.
It’s not clear yet if Apple’s new strategy of scooping up would-be blockbusters and Oscar-hopefuls will net it new Apple TV+ subscribers, but the strategy has definitely worked for Netflix, which has won clout and prestige by funding and releasing movies like The Irishman and Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma.