Is the next Martin Scorsese picture worth 200 million?


Photo Courtesy of AP Images. Martin Scorsese attends the National Board of Review Awards gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in New York.

Hector Leyva, Campus Editor

Acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese has a new film set for release in 2021, but its budget has reportedly increased to $200 million dollars.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is set to star frequent Scorsese’s collaborators, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, it will also feature his long time editor Thelma Schoonmaker and Mexican cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto. The scriptwriting duties will go to Eric Roth known primarily for his Oscar-winning turn in “Forest Gump.”

The film is based on the 2017 book of the same name written by journalist David Grann.

Scorsese is pitching it as his first western film and from the sound of it is seems like a mix of Kevin Costner’s “Dances with Wolves” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood.”

With a potential premise like that, it’s difficult to comprehend why the auteur filmmaker would need a $200 million budget to complete the project.

This type of budget only seems to go to movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or in the case of Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film “Tenet,” both of which are heavy on visual effects and sci-fi spectacle.

One needs to remember that the film industry is first and foremost, a business; for the type of character dramas that Scorsese is renowned for, a return on investment on a $200 million film is not viable.

Scorsese was in a similar conundrum with his last film “The Irishman,” which had a budget that inflated to $160 million due to brand new type of de-aging technology.

What’s most intriguing is that Scorsese is capable of making masterful films on a very low budget. His 70’s films “Mean Streets” and “Taxi Driver” had a combined budget of about $2.5 million.

It’s strange then why he would essentially want 100 times that amount to make a western.

Paramount has distributed many of Martin Scorsese’s movies, with their biggest success perhaps being “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Even though they still hold the rights to “Killers of the Flower Moon”, they’ve given the director the go-ahead to look for other distributors.

It is likely that the film will once again end up on Netflix, but it is possible that Apple TV pays for the film in order to gain prestige in Hollywood.

It is still possible that film studios distribute the film if the cost goes down. It’s a little disheartening to see one of the most influential and consistent directors of the last 50 years have his final films on a streaming service. But still, it is better than no film at all.

With such an inflated budget the film will undoubtedly bomb and I feel conflicted. My logical self and my film-loving self are in disagreement.

On one hand, the film costs are just too much, but on the other hand, we’re talking about a seasoned veteran filmmaker. Scorsese just made his late-career masterpiece with “The Irishman.” It’s as if the king of gangster flicks gave an epic sprawling eulogy to gangster flicks.

There was doubt in Scorsese’s use of 3-D in the film “Hugo,” and the de-aging effects in his latest film, but he more than delivered both times.

Maybe he’ll put this budget to great use and create an epic western akin to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

But, he doesn’t need a huge budget to do so!

With Scorsese, DiCaprio and De Niro, this is easily my most anticipated film of next year. The platform doesn’t really matter in this case it will most likely still play in theatres for a limited time to qualify for awards run, but a lot of people will not have the option to see it in cinemas.

The film was set to start production in March, but the global pandemic has delayed those plans and it is entirely possible that it could still hit a late 2021 release date.

It is unclear how long the film will be, but it’ll surely be another character-focused piece filled with the director’s trademarks.

What’s certain is this, I’m dreading the day when film fans cannot go to the theater to see a new Martin Scorsese picture.