On Wednesday May 27, Deadline reported that Apple won a fierce bidding war to partner with Paramount Studios on Martin Scorsese’s hotly anticipated, big-budget film Killers of the Flower Moon, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. While it is not official yet, Apple reportedly beat out other major studios including Universal, MGM, and even Scorsese’s Irishman backer, Netflix, to finance and become the creative studio for the film, which puts DiCaprio and De Niro opposite each other for the first time in a meaningful way since This Boy’s Life in 1993. Apple certainly had to pay a pretty penny to acquire Killers of the Flower Moon, which reportedly has a budget somewhere in the $200 million range. About one-fourth of that is due to Scorsese, DiCaprio, and De Niro’s pay checks, which are approximately $20 million, $20 million, and $15 million, respectively. Dropping $55 million before the camera starts rolling? Sounds reasonable enough.
Imperative Entertainment bought the movie rights to Killers of the Flower Moon, based on David Grann’s book of the same name, in 2016 for $5 million. Eric Roth wrote the screenplay, which follows the mystery surrounding a series of murders of wealthy Osage Native Americans in Oklahoma in the early 1920s, after oil deposits were discovered beneath their land. The film will have a wide theatrical release through Paramount and then land on Apple as the streaming service’s biggest title. To think that some exec at Apple saw The Irishman about a year ago and thought, “I like this … but what if Leo were in it?” and here we are.