Martin Scorsese’s $200 million Western crime drama “Killers of the Flower Moon” was supposed to begin production in March, but the coronavirus pandemic put the project on an indefinite hiatus that will now reportedly end in February 2021. According to Osage News (via The Film Stage), the Osage Nation is preparing for a 16-week “Flower Moon” shoot to begin in February 2021 in Oklahoma. The date was revealed by principal chief Geoffrey Standing Bear in an August 5 address to the 7th Osage Nation Congress.
“My latest information is that they would start filming, subject to coronavirus, in February 2021,” Standing Bear said. “And they will be here for about 16 weeks. They’re going to start moving in here quietly, I’m not helping that very much, but quietly around November and December. So, they’re coming.”
Chad Renfro and Addie Roanhorse are the official Osage Nation ambassadors for the film and say they are in open communication with Apple and Paramount on the upcoming production. While Paramount was originally set to finance and distribute “Flower Moon,” an escalating $200 million budget made the studio strike a deal with Apple in which the streaming giant will finance the project and Paramount will distribute it around the world.
“They are excited about the partnership with Apple and that they will be and are very much looking forward to filming here,” Renfro and Roanhorse said about Scorsese and his “Flower Moon” team. “The industry and production is basically at a standstill due to COVID-19 and timing is the biggest unknown. With safety for all being of greatest concern, once the industry protocol has been established and it is safe to embark on this important project, they will reach back out to us.”
As Osage News reports, the “Flower Moon” production is expected to employ many Native American crew members. The publication writes: “Before the pandemic, crew members of the film were in talks with Osage artisans, cooks, language speakers, homeowners, landowners, and others to work on the film. Filmmakers have also expressed interest in filming inside the Osage Capitol Building, the old Superintendent’s House on the Osage campus, and other Osage historical homes around the county.”
“Flower Moon” has been described by Scorsese as his first full-on Western movie and is reuniting the filmmaker with muses Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie is based on David Grann’s historical book and centers around the Osage Nation murders, in which members of the Native American tribe were killed after discovering oil on their reservation. The murders attracted the attention of the newly-created FBI.
Speaking to Vanity Fair earlier this month, Scorsese’s longtime cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto said the “Flower Moon” production would be extra sensitive to safety measures as the director suffers from asthma. Prieto has worked with Scorsese on projects such as “Silence” and “The Irishman,” the latter of which earned 10 Oscar nominations earlier this year.
“Certainly, [‘Killers of the Flower Moon’] will be very delicate too because, well, even Martin Scorsese as a director, he has asthma,” Prieto said. “So we have to be very careful with him.”
With an estimated $200 million budget, “Flower Moon” could be Scorsese’s most expensive outing to date and one of the highest-budgeted original dramas ever made. No release date has been announced.