Martin Scorsese, the man who once decried ‘content’, has signed on to make just that in a first-look deal with Apple TV+. The media giant is already financing the legendary director’s next film, Killers Of The Flower Moon, and now the relationship will extend beyond that, with Scorsese signing a multi-year deal to develop both film and TV projects.
This will all be done through Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions banner, which was previously set up at Paramount Pictures. So, is this the pot calling the kettle black? Well, maybe, but it is also just another sign of a changing industry, and recent history has shown that even Scorsese has struggled to get films made at traditional studios.
As the cinematic landscape has shifted towards superhero movies and blockbusters, studios have been reluctant to give Scorsese big budgets for his films, especially when movies like Silence haven’t exactly been box office smash hits.
Paramount was originally developing Scorsese’s The Irishman, before the budget ballooned and the studio allowed the director to take the project to Netflix.
The studio then backed out of Killers Of The Flower Moon for similar reasons – and were reportedly worried that the script had shifted from an FBI “investigation” story to a darker, more introspective drama – and Apple pounced, happy to hand Scorsese the $200 million budget he wanted.
This lack of commitment from traditional studios, combined with streaming platforms’ deep pockets and desire to have big name-projects on their rosters, probably led to Scorsese realising that if he wanted to keep making the kind of movies he’s used to, it made the most sense to partner with a streamer. He’s chosen Apple, who will likely be ecstatic to have that kind of name recognition on board.
Apple has committed to cinematic releases for their films, which would have certainly been something Scorsese favoured, and the company’s deep pockets means he shouldn’t have and budget issues anymore, nor any mandate to make a film no longer than three hours (as was demanded with The Wolf Of Wall Street).
So this is a good deal for Scorsese, a good one for Apple, and a good one for film fans too. We now get to see Scorsese continue to make films the way he wants, and maybe even develop projects other studios wouldn’t have considered commercial enough.
As for Killers Of The Flower Moon – which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, and tells the true story of a series of murders of Osage people in Oklahoma in the early 1920s – the film was supposed to begin filming in March, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to that. It will now begin shooting in February 2021.