Leonardo DiCaprio is one of those actors that likely has a lot of pull on any project that he works on but in the case of his new movie KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON, co-starring Robert De Niro, and to be directed by Martin Scorsese, the actor got into some tense negotiations with screenwriter Eric Roth in regards to making to certain changes.
Roth did an interview with the “Script Notes” podcast and Roth detailed that DiCaprio argued hard for rewrites on the project and it looks like the two ultimately had to meet in the middle:
“That’s supposed to start filming in March once the [infection] clears out, and it’s Martin Scorsese. They’ll be continuing rewrites with that. Leonardo [DiCaprio] wanted some things changed that we argued about. He won half of [the arguments]. I won half of them. So that’s happening.”
KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON is an adaptation of the 2017 non-fiction book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by journalist David Grann. Not only is the book respected but from a film perspective, the movie has the interest of movie lovers everywhere because it will be the first time that Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro will be working together with Scorsese on the big screen. The duo has been in movies together such as 1993’s A BOYS LIFE and 1996’s MARVIN’S ROOM but there is this cool element at play because Scorsese and De Niro crafted so many classic together over time and DiCaprio has made his fair share of great films with the director as well.
The history of this film getting made is a long and troubled one, however. After DiCaprio and Scorsese joined the project, Paramount Pictures was going to produce the film but Scorses indicated he would require a $180 million budget to make the film. Paramount Pictures tried to negotiate down to $150 million but, according to “The Hollywood Reporter“, Scorsese and DiCaprio decided to make script changes that made things more complicated:
“Sources say things changed when the director and his star decided to revise the script. Originally DiCaprio was playing the good guy working for the then-nascent FBI. In the revised version, DiCaprio would portray villain Robert De Niro’s nephew, torn between love and the evil machinations of his uncle. A source with knowledge of the situation says Paramount felt that turned the film into a moody and less commercial character study – “smaller scale; same budget.”
In the recent interview with the “Script Notes” podcast, Roth made it clear that he loved that book and that his screenplay was accurate to the source material:
“I spent four or five years on this book, ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’ which everybody should read. It’s a wonderful book. 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].”
It will be interesting to see how the rewrites changed things for the project in the long run. Hopefully, it’s the best of all of their ideas because the film certainly sounds interesting. After Paramount Pictures couldn’t agree with Scorsese on the budget, the studio allowed him to shop the project elsewhere and that left it open for streamer Apple TV+ to nab it. Apple is now acting as a producer and Scorsese gets the massive budget he wanted, much like did with Netflix and THE IRISHMAN.
Do YOU think KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON will live up to the hype considering the talent involved?