‘Killers of the Flower Moon’
‘Killers of the Flower Moon’
Movie

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

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Director Martin Scorsese is most often associated with classic movies about wise guys and gangsters. But with his upcoming film Killers of the Flower Moon, the director is tackling a new genre with his first-ever Western. The film, an adaption of journalist David Grann‘s 2017 nonfiction book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and The Birth of the FBI, tells the story of at least twenty murdered members of the Osage Tribe in Oklahoma during the 1920s in Oklahoma.


The film rights to Grann’s book were sold in 2016–a year before his book was even published– but it wasn’t until 2021 that filming of the hugely anticipated movie commenced. After a series of directors expressed interest in the project without officially signing on, Martin Scorsese was brought on board. Production was set to begin in March 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed filming until mid-2021. Here’s what we know about the project so far.

Editor’s Note: This piece was last updated on November 7, 2023.

Killers of the Flower Moon Film Poster

Killers of the Flower Moon

When oil is discovered in 1920s Oklahoma under Osage Nation land, the Osage people are murdered one by one – until the FBI steps in to unravel the mystery.

Release Date
October 20, 2023

Director
Martin Scorsese

Cast
Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons, John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers

Rating
R

Runtime
206 minutes

Main Genre
Drama

Genres
Drama, Crime, History

Studio
Paramount Pictures

Writers
David Grann, Eric Roth

When Did ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Come Out?

DiCaprio holding Gladstone's hand as she gets off a 1920s car
Image via Apple TV+

Killers of the Flower Moon released in theaters across North America on October 20, 2023. The film was also released in IMAX. Killers of the Flower Moon was previously set to have a limited release on October 6, 2023, before expanding to theaters across North America on October 20. The film had its world premiere on May 20, 2023, at the Cannes Film Festival, where it screened out of competition. Collider’s Therese Lacson gave the film a B, saying in her review:

“Bolstered by a strong cast and a luscious color palette and landscape, Killers of the Flower Moon is worthy of a watch for those who can look past its romanticization.”

Was ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Released Day-and-Date With Streaming?

Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons as William Hale and Tom White in Killers of the Flower Moon
Image via Apple TV+

Seeing as Apple is involved, you wouldn’t have been too out of line to expect the film to be released day-and-date in theaters and on Apple TV+. Fortunately, the tech giant teamed up with Paramount to give the film an exclusive theatrical release on October 20. As many may recall Netflix distributed Martin Scorsese’s last film, The Irishman, in November 2019, and gave the film a limited theatrical release, a few weeks before it launched on the streaming service.

Apple and Paramount looked to give Killers of the Flower Moon a much longer theatrical window. Paramount was initially set to distribute the film by themselves, but budgetary concerns led Scorsese and the studio to look to partner up with a streamer, the two top contenders being Netflix and Apple, with the latter ultimately acquiring the film.

As of November 3, 2023, Killers of the Flower Moon has grossed $102.1 million at the global box office.

Is There a Trailer for ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’?

“Can you find the wolves in this picture?”

This is the line of dialogue that Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Ernest Burkhart repeats in the first teaser trailer of Killers of the Flower Moon, which Apple TV released on its YouTube channel on May 18, 2023. The teaser trailer runs at just under two minutes and is narrated by DiCaprio, speaking in a southern accent, who tells of the origins of the Osage tribe.

The full trailer for Killers of the Flower Moon was released on Apple TV’s YouTube channel on July 5, 2023. The trailer is much more dialogue-heavy than the previous trailers, highlighting the scheming Ernest Burkhart and William Hale as they form a plot involving murder to steal money from the Osage Nation.

The second full-length trailer for Killers of the Flower Moon offers even more details on the film’s plot and gives us a glimpse into some of the more dramatic moments.

A new Killers of the Flower Moon featurette was released on September 25, going behind the scenes on the film’s story with Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. See it right here:

This was followed by another featurette on October 3, released via Empire Magazine. The latest Killers of the Flower Moon sneak peek puts the spotlight on Lily Gladstone‘s character, with the actor talking about feeling an “immense responsibility” playing the real-life figure.

A trio of clips were released by Paramount showcasing some key moments featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone.

Who Stars in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’?

With Scorsese signed on to direct, he brought some familiar faces on board–most notably, his long-time muses and collaborators on multiple projects, Academy Award winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro.

There are probably few actor-director collaborations as successful or as famous as that of Scorsese and De Niro, and Killers of the Flower Moon marks their tenth film together (it’s their eleventh project together overall if you include the 2015 short film The Audition). The two have been working together since the 1973 film Mean Streets, and since then have worked together on Taxi Driver, New York, New York, Raging Bull (which landed De Niro his second Best Actor Oscar), The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Casino, and The Irishman.

In Killers of the Flower Moon, De Niro plays William Hale, the villainous cattle rancher suspected of organizing contract hits on wealthy members of the Osage tribe. This film marks the tenth film collaboration between Scorsese and De Niro, and it’s likely to continue their impressive track record.

De Niro spoke about his character while doing press at the Cannes Film Festival:

“Who else is going to challenge people to challenge their own complicity in white supremacy with such a platform as this man here? Other artists are doing that work, people listen to what this one says. So turning the lens, turning the big lens, the most golden lens, into areas where our communities — we’re speaking of the 1920s Osage community, we are talking about Black Wall Street, Tulsa, and why the hell does the world not know about these things? Our communities always have. It’s so central to everything about how we understand our place in the world. We need these allies.”

Scorsese’s collaborations with Leonardo DiCaprio started more recently, beginning in 2002 with Gangs of New York, but their work together is just as prestigious. Killers of the Flower Moon marks their sixth film together (seventh if you include The Audition), their other films together include The Aviator, The Departed (which earned Scorsese his first Best Director Oscar), Shutter Island, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

In Killers of the Flower Moon, DiCaprio plays Ernest Burkhart, Hale’s nephew who struggles with conflicting loyalties towards his Osage wife and his powerful uncle.

The movie also stars Academy Award nominee Jesse Plemons as FBI agent Tom White. Plemons’ career has been on the rise in the last few years, and he previously worked with Scorsese on The Irishman, where he played Chuckie O’Brien. DiCaprio was initially tapped to play the role of Tom White but ended up switching to play the role of Burkhart instead, prompting Plemons to be cast in the role. Lily Gladstone (First Cow) plays the role of Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman and the wife of Ernest Burkhart. Meanwhile, recent Academy Award winner Brendan Fraser (The Whale) continues his impressive acting comeback with his role as lawyer W.S. Hamilton. Academy Award nominee John Lithgow (The World According to Garp) also stars as Prosecutor Leaward who seeks to convict Hale of murder.

Other castmembers include Tantoo Cardinal (Wind River) as Lizzie Q, Cara Jade Myers (This Is Us) as Anna Kyle Brown, JaNae Collins (Reservation Dogs) as Rita, Jillian Dion (Legion) as Minnie, William Belleau (The English) as Henry Roan, Tatanka Means (Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials) as John Wren, Louis Cancelmi (The Irishman) as Kelsie Morrison, Michael Abbott Jr. (Mud) as Frank Smith, Pat Healy (Station 19) as John Burger, Scott Shepherd (The Last of Us) as Bryan Burkhart, Jason Isbell (Squidbillies) as Bill Smith, Sturgill Simpson (The Creator) as Henry Grammer, Gary Basaraba (The Irishman) as William J. Burns, Steve Eastin (Con Air) as Judge Pullock, Barry Corbin (Tulsa King) as Undertaker Turton, and Katherine Willis (Friday Night Lights) as Myrtle Hale, and Musician Jack White & Larry Fessenden (Bringing Out the Dead) as actors on a Radio Show. Scorsese also makes an on-screen cameo at the end of the film.

Who Made ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’?

Martin Scorsese and Lily Gladstone sitting in a church on set of Killers of the Flower Moon
Image via Apple TV+

As previously mentioned, Martin Scorsese directed Killers of the Flower Moon, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker needs no introduction and has one of the most legendary careers in the history of film. Scorsese also co-wrote the script alongside Academy Award winner Eric Roth (Forrest Gump), which is adapted from the novel of the same name by David Grann. In addition to assembling a stellar cast, Scorsese is surrounded by a familiar crew. Known for his laborious editing process, the director continues his long-time association with three-time Academy Award-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker (The Aviator), Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (The Wolf of Wall Street), and Robbie Robertson (The Irishman), who has served as music producer on Scorsese’s films since 1978. Scorsese is also producing the film alongside Dan Friedkin (The Mule), Bradley Thomas (All the Money in the World), and Daniel Lupi (There Will Be Blood). DiCaprio serves as an executive producer alongside Rick Yorn (The Wolf of Wall Street), Adam Somner (West Side Story), Marianne Bower (Silence), Lisa Frechette (Shutter Island), John Atwood (Triangle of Sadness), Shea Kammer (The Good Lord Bird), and Niels Juul (The Irishman).

Determined to work with the Osage Nation for this movie, Scorsese cast indigenous actors as Osage people in the movie and, with the tribe’s permission, filmed scenes on Osage land. The director worked closely with the Osage Tribe’s film ambassador Chad Renfro and the Chief of the Osage Nation, Geoffrey Standing Bear, is a consultant on the film. Chief Standing Bear spoke about collaborating with Scorsese saying:

“Early on, I asked Mr. Scorsese, how are you going to approach the story? And he said I’m going to tell a story about trust. Trust, trust between Mollie and Ernest, trust between the outside world and the Osage and the betrayal of that trust, deep betrayal. And my people suffered greatly and to this day, this very day, those effects are with us, but I can stay on behalf of the Osage, Martin Scorsese and his team have restored trust and we know that trust will not be betrayed.”

In February 2021 before filming began, both DiCaprio and Scorsese made a presentation about their intentions toward the story and its themes. Osage Tribe members were given a chance to voice their concerns and DiCaprio asked questions to improve the authenticity of the film.

Lily Gladstone praised Scorsese for using his large platform to tell the tragic true story.

“Who else is going to challenge people to challenge their own complicity in white supremacy with such a platform as this man here? Other artists are doing that work, people listen to what this one says. So turning the lens, turning the big lens, the most golden lens, into areas where our communities — we’re speaking of the 1920s Osage community, we are talking about Black Wall Street, Tulsa, and why the hell does the world not know about these things? Our communities always have. It’s so central to everything about how we understand our place in the world. We need these allies.”

On May 20, 2023, shortly after the film’s world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Jim Gray, the former Principal Chief of the Osage Nation, released a statement via Twitter which can be viewed below.

What’s the Plot of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’?

Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone embracing in a field in Killers of the Flower Moon
Image via Apple Studios

Killers of the Flower Moon tells the story of the plot to kill nearly sixty members of the Osage tribe from 1921 to 1925. In the latter part of the 19th century, the Osage Indian Tribe of Oklahoma was awarded the right to profit from the huge oil deposits discovered in the land. The tens of millions of dollars that the Osage people made on their own meant that the Osage nation was considered one of the wealthiest nations in the world. The wealth made the federal government nervous enough to appoint Caucasian guardians to “assist” in financial management and caused murderous envy among other communities who hadn’t struck it quite so rich. And by 1921, these bad feelings soon led to violence, when the body of a wealthy Osage woman was found in the woods. By 1925, at least sixty wealthy members of the Osage tribe had died. The FBI became involved in the investigation and was led by Agent Tom White, who uncovers a complex plot by local cattleman William Hale to gain control of the Osage oil. Hale had even convinced his nephew Ernest Burkhart to marry Mollie Kile, a native Osage woman, to improve his claim to the land. It’s probably safe to say that this story of racism, murder, betrayal, and greed will become a gritty and suspenseful film under Scorsese’s direction.

The official plot synopsis for the film via Apple reads:

At the turn of the 20th century, oil brought a fortune to the Osage Nation, who became some of the richest people in the world overnight. The wealth of these Native Americans immediately attracted white interlopers, who manipulated, extorted and stole as much Osage money as they could before resorting to murder. Based on a true story and told through the improbable romance of Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone), “Killers of the Flower Moon” is an epic western crime saga, where real love crosses paths with unspeakable betrayal. Also starring Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is directed by Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese from a screenplay by Eric Roth and Martin Scorsese, based on David Grann’s bestselling book.

When and Where Did ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Film?

Robert De Niro and Leonardo Dicaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon
Image via Apple TV+

Filming for Killers of the Flower Moon began in April 2021 in Oklahoma. Scorsese released the following statement in regard to the start of filming:

“We are thrilled to finally start production on Killers of the Flower Moon in Oklahoma. To be able to tell this story on the land where these events took place is incredibly important and critical to allowing us to portray an accurate depiction of the time and people. We’re grateful to Apple, the Oklahoma Film and Music Office and The Osage Nation, especially all our Osage consultants and cultural advisors, as we prepare for this shoot. We’re excited to start working with our local cast and crew to bring this story to life on screen and immortalize a time in American history that should not be forgotten.”

Filming wrapped for the project on October 1, 2021.

Related:Finally, New ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Images Have Arrived

How Long Is ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’?

JaNae Collins, Lily Gladstone, Cara Jade Myers, and Jillian Dion as Reta, Mollie, Anna, and Minnie in Killers of the Flower Moon
Image via Apple TV+

Many of Scorsese’s films have notoriously had epic runtimes, for example, The Irishman ran for 3 hours and 29 minutes (209 minutes) and The Wolf of Wall Street ran for 3 hours (180 minutes). Killers of the Flower Moon is Scorsese’s second-longest film to date with a runtime of 3 hours and 26 minutes (206 minutes).

SOURCE : collider.com

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