Paramount dropped Killers Of The Flower Moon after script change (then came back)

lily gladstone in killers of the flower moon
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Paramount nearly dropped out of distributing a Martin Scorsese film (again) with Killers Of The Flower Moon. Don’t worry, they changed their mind. More below:

Martin Scorsese's been very busy promoting his new film, Killers Of The Flower Moon, with long-form interviews popping up in every big and fancy publication on both sides of the Atlantic.

Even after multiple thousands of words on the topic, though, Scorsese still seems able to throw the odd tasty tidbit at us ahead of the film’s release. This time, talking to The Wall Street Journal, he’s recalled how Paramount messed him around with the film’s financing a little bit.

The problem stemmed, apparently, from Scorsese and Eric Roth’s first draught of the script, which played out much more like a standard crime procedural, with Leonardo DiCaprio playing the then leading role of FBI agent Tom White.

Paramount, according to reports, loved that script. They loved it so much they were going to pay Scorsese lots of money to make it. Unfortunately, no-one else did.

“After two years of working on the script, Leo came to me and asked, ‘Where is the heart of this story?’” Scorsese told the Irish Times. “I had had meetings and dinners with the Osage, and I thought, ‘Well, there’s the story.’ The real story, we felt, was not necessarily coming from the outside, with the bureau, but rather from the inside, from Oklahoma.”

As a result, Scorsese and Roth tore their existing script to pieces, reconfiguring the story into something more akin to the finished film arriving in cinemas this Friday. Paramount weren’t best pleased – even before the new script was finished.

“The studio said, ‘We backed the other version, we can’t back this one,’” Scorsese remembered.

Looks like it all worked out well in the end, though. When Apple stepped in to finance the $200 million film, Paramount rejoined as a theatrical distribution partner. Flower Moon will be Scorsese’s first film to be given a wide theatrical release since 2016’s Silence. Coincidentally, Paramount also dropped the director’s 2019 gangster epic, The Irishman, over concerns with its ballooning budget. The film was subsequently given a limited theatrical release by Netflix so it would qualify for Oscars consideration.

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