Lily Gladstone season is almost upon us. Killers of the Flower Moon was already expected to be one of the touchstone films of the fall, but now it is getting a global wide release on October 20. The original plan was for Killers to have a limited release on October 6, followed by an expansion on October 20, but now it will just go straight to a wide release, including a digitally remastered IMAX version, on October 20. Dune: Part Two vacating its November release date has left a hole in the fall schedule, and Apple TV+, along with their distribution partner Paramount, is undoubtedly hoping to take advantage by making Killers the big splashy movie of autumn. And it should be! Give Lily Gladstone her flowers! (You can rent The Unknown Country on demand now.)
This is a smart move from Apple TV+ and Paramount, building off the momentum of Oppenheimer for expertly crafted, sumptuous cinematic experiences for adults at the theater. There are still some big movies slated for this fall, including The Marvels, the NSYNC Trolls movie, and the Hunger Games prequel, but there’s no large-scale centerpiece film aimed at grown-ups the way Oppenheimer served as counterprogramming to the bubblegum entertainment of summer blockbuster season. Killers has the name director—Martin Scorsese—the A-list cast headed by Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone, and a potentially grand visual experience. It could be for the fall what Oppenheimer was this summer.
Dune was supposed to be that—the big, flashy but grownass film for adults. But Warner Bros. Discovery tucked tail and ran, and now there is nothing positioned between the bubblegum and the Oscar bait like The Holdovers and Next Goal Wins. But can Killers deliver? It certainly looks very promising, and if a film about nuclear bombs didn’t put the public off, a film about genocidal massacre probably won’t, either.
The question, really, is whether or not Oppenheimer was a fluke. Pre-pandemic, it was not a secret that adult-oriented, character-driven dramas were struggling at the box office. That’s how Scorsese’s latest films ended up being financed by streamers like Netflix and Apple—MARTIN SCORSESE became a risky bet. But Oppenheimer, which has earned $788 million, is a smash hit as a three-hour, R-rated, character-driven drama. Killers of the Flower Moon is the exact same kind of film, down to the laborious runtime (it’s actually longer, coming in just under three and a half hours). A good measure for how audience appetites have actually changed will be how this global release plan works for Killers of the Flower Moon. If it works even halfway as well as Oppenheimer, we might be in for a sea change at the movies.
Live long and gossip,