Say what you will about Martin Scorsese’s recent output. The arrival of his films is still an event that warrants marking out your calendar. As for the matter of when we can expect Killers of the Flower Moon starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, the 79-year-old director’s hotly-anticipated Western crime drama is currently eyeing a November 2022 release date.
“When you’d assume: next November,” reveals screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, A Star Is Born, Dune).
“I’ve heard [Martin Scorsese] is well on his way to getting the editing done.”
Based on the bestselling non-fiction book by journalist David Grann – as well as the real-life historical events said book explores – this story has been ripe for adaptation long before Scorsese set his Academy Award-winning sights on it. For reference, screen rights alone were subject to a US$5 million bidding war.
In the 1920s, Native Americans from the Osage tribe became the “richest people in the world” after large oil deposits were discovered beneath their reservation. Not long after, several members of the tribe were murdered one by one in various ways.
Officially, the body count reached at least 20. Investigations have estimated the real figure is somewhere in the hundreds. What occurred has since been acknowledged as “one of the most sinister crimes” and “one of the highest-profile serial killings” ever witnessed by America during the 20th century.
Killers of the Flower Moon also delves into the birth of the FBI and its first Director, J. Edgar Hoover; both tasked with investigating the atrocities. Incidentally, Leonardo DiCaprio has previously portrayed Hoover for Clint Eastwood’s 2011 film J. Edgar. This time around, however, DiCaprio has chosen a far less heroic role.
In the first draft of the screenplay written by Eric Roth, he was positioned to play a “federal agent working for the newly-established FBI” by the name of Ernest Buckhart who heads to the Osage Nation to solve a series of murders. but the leading man had other plans and pushed for rewrites (which caused some production delays).
“Leonardo [DiCaprio] wanted some things changed [in the script] that we argued about. He won half of [the arguments]. I won half of them,” explains screenwriter Eric Roth.
“My screenplay, I think, was accurate to the book.”
“It’s the story of Osage Indians, 1921, the poorest people in America who discover oil in this terrible land in Oklahoma where they’ve been driven to.”
“Then every killer in America comes to kill 184 of them for their money, but this really heroic guy comes in [to help].”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the revised iteration of the screenplay will see him portray Tom White, nephew of Robert De Niro’s character, William Hale – the film’s villain and long-suspected killer. DiCaprio’s Tom White is “torn between love and the evil machinations of his uncle.” Matt Damon lookalike Jesse Plemons has stepped into the role of Special Agent Ernest Buckhart.
“I wouldn’t say [Plemons is] the lead. I would say that he was the designated hero,” adds Roth.
“I think the parts are pretty equal and they were always equal to a certain extent, and Leo’s part is very complicated and very interesting.”
“It’s a smart part for a smart actor to play. I mean, if Montgomery Clift was alive, I think he might think of playing him.”
Other cast members you can expect include Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart, Tantoo Cardinal as Lizzie Q, John Lithgow as Prosecutor Leaward, Brendan Fraser as W.S. Hamilton, Sturgill Simpson as Henry Grammer, and more.
We’ll update you when Killers of the Flower Moon locks in an official release date beyond the open window of November 2022. Let’s just hope this one’s actually worth the wait + US$200 million budget.