Even at 80 years old, Martin Scorsese shows no signs of tempering what can only be described at this point as a manic compulsion to tell stories. The iconic purveyor of fast violence, unlawful bravado, and toxic protagonists will release his 27th narrative film this year, entitled Killers of the Flower Moon. The film is produced by Apple TV Plus, with distribution backing by Paramount.
The film centers on a series of murders in Oklahoma’s Osage Nation during the 1920s, after oil is discovered on tribal land. The spree prompts a major federal investigation directed by a young J. Edgar Hoover and a former Texas Ranger.
Although Leonardo DiCaprio was initially brought on to play the former Ranger, he instead secured the role of Ernest Burkhart, the nephew of the film’s primary antagonist (played by Robert DeNiro). Eventually, Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) snagged the role of the former Ranger, Tom White. And yet: early reviews say the real star of the show is Lily Gladstone (Reservation Dogs, Billions), an American actor of Blackfeet and Nimíipuu heritage.
Gladstone portrays an Osage woman, Mollie, who begins a romantic relationship with DiCaprio’s character, despite struggling with suspicions that the murders are being committed to further white profits. Check out the trailer below:
How is Killers of the Flower Moon being released?
Until recently, the film was set to open in select theaters on Oct. 6 of this year, before later opening across the U.S. on Oct. 20. However, per The Hollywood Reporter, Apple has decided to simply let the film open wide on Oct. 20, without the short stint in select theaters beforehand.
It will release on Apple TV Plus sometime after its theatrical window, which is unknown at this point but will apparently be pre-pandemic in its measure. So look for the movie to hit streaming a few months after it premieres in theaters — but before the Oscars in early March 2024.
Why is Apple doubling down on a nationwide opening? Look at the box office numbers: Oppenheimer is still breaking records left and right for a three-hour, R-rated feature. Guess what else is three hours and R-rated? A Martin Scorcese movie!
Of course, Killers of the Flower Moon won’t have a Barbie-related meme to propel it into the zeitgeist, so we’re not sure how realistic it is to hope that Scorsese’s latest opus will join Oppy in the $700 Million Club. But wouldn’t be terrific if it did?
That would underline the message that Barbie and Oppenheimer are currently sending to studio executives: that audiences crave smart, original material that doesn’t disappear from theaters after a 30- or 45-day theatrical window. We are now officially waiting for streaming to catch all the green-screen movies. Give us the next great American epic, or no popcorn sales for you.
It would be beautiful if the very director who said Marvel movies aren’t cinema actually helped wrestle the box office away from the clutches of CG-augmented bad guys for good. If not, we hope it at least makes enough money to prove that these types of stories can still turn a profit.