Martin Scorsese has made nine movies over the course of his career with Robert De Niro, and five of them with Leonardo DiCaprio, but until now, he had never made one with both of them.
Starting earlier this year, Scorsese was getting ready to start making just that movie, Killers of the Flower Moon, an adaptation of David Grann’s 2017 non-fiction book about a series of murders of Native Americans in Oklahoma in the 1920s.
Production was set to start in Oklahoma, in March, before the coronavirus shutdowns, and then reports emerged that the film’s studio, Paramount, was getting skittish about the rising costs of the production. But now comes word that the film is going ahead, thanks to a deal between Paramount and Apple.
According to a Deadline report this week, the deal entails Apple taking over both the financing and the creative aspects of the film. Paramount will still distribute the film’s “wide” theatrical release, after which it will show on the Apple TV+ streaming service.
It’s uncertain when the film might be done and released. Scorsese’s previous film, The Irishman, took about two years between the start of its production and its release on Netflix last year, although it was in the works much longer than that.
The deal is another example of traditional Hollywood studios, amid uncertainty about the pandemic, partially or fully selling off films to streaming services, although many such deals – such as the recent one in which the Tom Hanks film Greyhound was acquired by Apple from Sony – have involved movies that were already completed.
Grann, who in addition to books, writes for The New Yorker, has had much of his writing turned into movies as of late. The Lost City of Z was based on his book, while last year’s death penalty drama Trial by Fire was based on one of his magazine articles, as was 2018’s Old Man and the Gun. It was reported in April that director Jeff Nichols and actor Adam Driver are working on a movie called Yankee Comandante, based on a Grann article about an American who participated in the Cuban revolution. George Clooney had previously optioned the same article.
Analyst Gene Munster famously predicted in 2017 that Apple would win an Oscar within five years. The acquisitions of these two prestige films have made that prediction more likely to come true.