Apple’s Cinematic Gamble: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Sparks Industry Debates


In a bold stride into theatrical waters, Apple’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” has ignited industry conversations, stirring debates on financial performance, star paychecks, and the evolving dynamics of streaming giants infiltrating traditional film landscapes.

Apple’s Cinematic Gamble: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Sparks Industry Debates

With three weekends under its belt, Apple’s inaugural major theatrical release, the $200 million crime epic helmed by Martin Scorsese and starring heavyweights Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, has raked in a global box office revenue of $120 million. Yet, decoding this figure has become as intricate as the film’s daunting three-hour-and-26-minute runtime.

To some industry insiders, like Eric Handler of Roth Capital Partners, the current global box office falls short of positioning the film for profitability, asserting the necessity of driving new subscribers to Apple TV+. If this were a traditional studio release, the movie might be stamped a flop, especially after a disheartening 61% dip in its second weekend. However, a subsequent 25% drop in its third frame offers a glimmer of hope, suggesting the audience is hanging in there.

The streaming arena, dominated by tech titans like Apple and Amazon, introduces a new playbook. Unlike traditional studios, Apple isn’t tethered to Wall Street evaluations based on individual film profit or loss. Streaming subscribers hold the spotlight, altering the definition of box office triumph.

David A. Gross, from Franchise Entertainment Research, adopts a cautious stance: “I don’t think we’re going to know how this turns out for weeks.” The film’s fate may pivot during awards season, kicking off in December, where accolades could validate the film’s hefty budget.

Comparisons to Amazon’s “Air” underscore the opacity of streaming successes or failures. Streaming services guard financial details beyond box office numbers, leaving industry observers in the dark about the real impact of these ventures.

In a theatrical landscape where a $200 million drama is a high-stakes gamble, analysts argue that traditional studios might balk at the economics of “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Apple’s rescue of the project when Paramount Pictures hit a budget wall underlines the streaming giant’s role in bringing adult-oriented, historically significant films to fruition.

Despite muted ticket sales, theaters hail “Killers of the Flower Moon” as a triumph in a lackluster fall season. The film’s lengthy runtime limits daily screenings, but the industry appreciates any semblance of a draw.

Apple’s deep pockets and its nonchalant approach to entertainment spending prompt questions. Does it matter if its theatrical releases aren’t immediate moneymakers? Industry insiders, including Stephen Galloway of Chapman University’s film school, argue that box office earnings are not pure profit, considering substantial distribution and awards campaign costs.

In an additional twist, reports emerge of Leonardo DiCaprio’s eye-watering $40 million payday for his role in the film, a figure comparable to his iconic turn in “Titanic.” This reinforces Apple’s commitment to securing A-list talent for its cinematic endeavors.

Behind the scenes, Martin Scorsese sheds light on creative differences while filming “Killers of the Flower Moon.” While praising DiCaprio’s performance, Scorsese reveals nuances, describing some improvisations as “endless” and not aligning with co-star Robert De Niro’s preferences.

Apple’s venture into high-budget theatrical releases reshapes the industry narrative as “Killers of the Flower Moon” traverses its theatrical journey and anticipates the awards season verdict. With upcoming projects like Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” and Matthew Vaughn’s “Argylle,” Apple remains undeterred in its cinematic pursuits, challenging traditional box office paradigms.

Brent Decker

Brent Decker is a devoted Christian and husband, proud father, and your freshest source for all things entertainment news. While he may be new to the exhilarating world of showbiz updates, he's geared up to bring you captivating insights and intriguing tidbits.

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