EXCLUSIVE: Deadline hears that the tug of war over one of the highest profile films in Hollywood is about over. Apple will win the derby for the Martin Scorsese-directed film “Killers Of The Flower Moon,” with Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro in the lead roles. The deals are being papered, but I’m told when they are, it will be an Apple original film, and Paramount will distribute theatrically worldwide.
Paramount had long ago acquired the project from Imperative Entertainment, but in recent weeks had allowed Scorsese and DiCaprio’s manager Rick Yorn to shop it around. Sources said that the studio was nervous about a price tag of $180 million to $200 million after tax credits from an Oklahoma location shoot, and studio brass liked the original Eric Roth draft better than the rewrite. Once Paramount allowed Yorn to take it to market, all studios from Universal to MGM and streamers including Scorsese’s “The Irishman” backer Netflix and Apple, have been chasing.
The deal, which calls for Apple to finance and become the creative studio, gives the movie a hybrid situation and the best of both worlds. The film will get a wide theatrical release through Paramount before it becomes the biggest film title so far on Apple’s streaming service. A big priority was for this a large scale Western and that was important to Scorsese, DiCaprio, De Niro and the film’s producers Dan Friedkin and Bradley Thomas at Imperative.
It’s the second huge movie for Apple, which Deadline recently revealed acquired Greyhound, the WWII film that stars Tom Hanks, who wrote the script. Clearly, Apple is making its move.
“Killers of the Flower Moon” has had a large profile since Imperative’s Friedkin and Thomas put the company on the map by outbidding the field five years ago to pay $5 million for the David Grann book “Killers Of The Flower Moon: The Osage Murders And The Birth Of The FBI.” The book is a mystery about a series of murders of wealthy Osage Native Americans in Oklahoma in the early 1920s, after oil deposits were discovered beneath their land. The ensuing investigation established the FBI and was a pivotal moment in the evolution of America from its frontier era.
Roth wrote the script and Scorsese and DiCaprio signed on early, with De Niro agreeing to join later. This is landmark stuff, Scorsese joining together his two most important acting collaborators, who haven’t worked together meaningfully in a film since “This Boy’s Life,” a breakout turn for DiCaprio, who has credited De Niro with showing him the possibilities that hard work could mean to an emerging actor/superstar.
Paramount was the original financier of “The Irishman,” but that project moved to Netflix, and received a Best Picture nomination among 10 total noms.
Paramount declined comment.