Based on David Grann’s bestselling nonfiction book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, the upcoming Western crime epic centers on a series of murders in 1920s Oklahoma, after oil is discovered on tribal land in the Osage Nation. The murders became known as the “Reign of Terror,” during which wealthy Osage Nation members were murdered for their oil money by the “white interlopers, who manipulated, extorted, and stole as much Osage money as they could before resorting to murder.”
The film features Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart — in his seventh onscreen collaboration with Scorsese — and First Cow‘s Lily Gladstone as his wife, Mollie. Other stars include Robert De Niro — besting DiCaprio, as this is his 11th Scorsese collab — Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser, John Lithgow, Tantoo Cardinal and more.
Production reportedly worked with a $200 million budget and completed the film at a total duration of three hours and 26 minutes.
Killers of the Flower Moon had its world premiere earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival, where Scorsese and the cast soaked up every second of its nine-minute ovation. Variety posted a snippet of the thunderous applause, and the outlet’s co-editor-in-chief, Ramin Setoodeh, reported that the nine-minute standing ovation was “the biggest and loudest” of the film festival thus far.
According to Variety, Scorsese took the mic after the ovation and addressed the excited crowd.
“Thank you to the Osages,” he said. “Everyone connected with the picture. My old pals, Bob and Leo, and Jesse and Lily. We shot this a couple of years ago in Oklahoma. It’s taken it’s time to come around but Apple did so great by us. There was lots of grass. I’m a New Yorker. I was very surprised. This was an amazing experience. We lived in that world.”
Scorsese previously opened up about his decision to switch focus while writing the film’s original script. According to IndieWire, Scorsese recalled the lengthy development process that led to DiCaprio switching roles at his Cannes press conference. The Oscar winner was initially meant to play Plemon’s FBI agent but switched roles when Scorsese and co-writer Eric Roth overhauled the script. Originally, the film was meant to focus on the FBI investigation into the murders.
“At one point, after two years of working on the script, Leo came to me. And he was going to play Tom White, that Jesse plays, and said to me, ‘Where’s the heart of this story? And I had had some meetings with the Osage,” Scorsese said. “And I learned a lot about them in those three hours. I learned about the people that settled, and the stories. They’re all related to each other, and there’s still relations and there’s still issues and so-and-so is in love… and it goes on like that. And I said, ‘There’s the story.'”
ET spoke with De Niro ahead of the 2023 Tribeca Festival in June, during which he opened up about the film’s impressive reception and rave reviews.
“It was great,” De Niro told ET about walking the carpet at the Cannes event with girlfriend Tiffany Chen. It marked their first public event after the 80-year-old star revealed Chen gave birth to his seventh child, a daughter named Gia. “Well, it’s crazy. But organized crazy. It’s a lot. I’m sort of used to it. I’ve been before, but it’s great.”
“We were very happy,” De Niro added of the film’s reception. “Listen, I’d rather be standing there for nine minutes for standing ovations as opposed to being booed for nine minutes. Because that audience, the audience at Cannes are known for that booing.”
Watch the new trailer below.
Killers of the Flower Moon will premiere exclusively in select theaters on Oct. 6, and wide on Oct. 20, before streaming globally on Apple TV+.