Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese are now filming their sixth movie together, Killers of the Flower Moon. This is another historical epic, but far from the usual urban landscapes that dominate Scorsese's best-known movies. This time, Scorsese is turning his cameras West, to Oklahoma, where he will tell the story of the Osage Indian nation, which was ravaged by mysterious deaths in the early part of the 20th Century after oil reserves were discovered under their land. Production began this week, and the first photo from the film was published by the local Osage News on Monday.
The photo shows DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart and Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman who falls in love with Ernest. The two are at a dinner table in a scene in 1919, during the early days of their relationship. Mollie invited Ernest to her home for an Osage meal, and they form a bond. Gladstone, who starred in Certain Women and the Showtime series Billions, wears traditional Osage clothing, including a Pendleton blanket.
Killers of the Flower Moon is based on the best-selling nonfiction book by David Grann. It is set in 1920s Oklahoma when several members of the Osage Nation were killed during what is known as the "Reign of Terror." The murders happened shortly after oil was discovered under their land, and the Osage were not used to the sudden wealth coming their way. In the book, Ernest arrives from Texas without a penny to his name and hopes to work in the oil fields. He is the nephew of rancher William Hale, played by Robert De Niro. Other actors in the film include Jesse Plemons, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, JaNae Collins, Tantoo Cardinal, and Cara Jade Myers. Scorsese wrote the script with Eric Roth (A Star Is Born, Forrest Gump).
Scorsese has been developing the project for years, and met with Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear in July 2019 to discuss the project. At the time, Scorsese said his manager, Rick Yorn, gave him a copy of the book and he was attracted to the story right after reading it. “What really got to me, was the intrinsic sense of evil,” the Oscar-winner explained, reports Osage News. “What is it in us that makes us capable of committing these acts of evil.” Scorsese said he was working closely with the Osage Nation to get the details correct.
Scorsese's previous movie, The Irishman, was released on Netflix, but Killers of the Flower Moon will be released on Apple TV+. In August 2020, Scorsese's Sikelia Productions signed a first-look deal with Apple to develop movies and TV shows for the streamer. Apple also has a deal with DiCaprio's Appian Way, which is a co-producer on the film. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the budget for Flower Moon is over $200 million.