2019 was a comeback year of sorts for Martin Scorsese. The legendary filmmaker was finally able to make his magnum opus The Irishman with a stellar star cast. The movie released to rapturous reviews from critics during its brief theatrical run. Unfortunately, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Scorsese has once again run into budget troubles over his next film, the Leonardo Dicaprio and Robert De Niro starrer Killers of the Flower Moon.
It is a set of circumstances almost identical to what had taken place a few years ago, when Paramount Pictures was set to produce The Irishman, before deciding that the huge budget Martin Scorsese needed to make the film would not make it a profitable venture. This forced Scorsese to take a chance with a streaming platform like Netflix.
This time also, Paramount, which was all set to produce Killers of the Flower Moon, is growing concerned over the fact that the budget for the movie is ballooning to over $200 million, which means the film will ultimately have to make over $500 million at the box office just to break even.
Keeping such considerations in mind, Paramount has apparently permitted Scorsese to shop around the project to other studios, and the filmmaker has already had talks with both Netflix and Apple to produce the film under their banner. If a deal is struck, it will mean that the film will have a limited theatrical run before immediately going to streaming.
When Netflix or other streaming platforms commission a show or a movie, their priority is not to make profits at the box office, but rather to use the movie to lure in more subscribers. With The Irishman, Netflix was able to use Scorsese's standing with an earlier generation to introduce older viewers to their service. With Killers of the Flower Moon, the strategy would remain unchanged, whether the film is produced by Netflix or Apple.
On his part, Scorsese has freely admitted that he would not have chosen a streaming platform for his previous film if he could have helped it since Scorsese believes films are meant to be viewed on the big screen. But the filmmaker has also expressed gratitude towards Netflix for providing him with a massive budget and complete creative control over his movie in a way that traditional movie studios had not been able to grant.
Scorsese's new relationship with streaming platforms is yet another strong indicator that Netflix and its ilk have forever changed the game when it comes to making movies and shows. With the current lockdown and theaters gathering dust the world over, the importance of digital streaming has only increased, and it seems likely that even after the lockdown is lifted, theaters will no longer remain the primary mode of viewing for new movies. How this will affect smaller films and indie projects remains to be seen. This report first appeared at The Wall Street Journal.