Rapid Insights: Killers of the Flower Moon Aligns with the Scorsese-DiCaprio Canon

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are back together again, this time with the Apple and Paramount film Killer of the Flower Moon, which showed off its first trailer today at CinemaCon to much anticipation. Their sixth film – a Western period piece investigating mysterious murders – is set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this year before its official theatrical release in October.

Until the trailer is released publicly, it is worth examining for now how the Scorsese-Dicaprio canon might inform expectations for Killers of the Flower Moon.

Vault AI uses index scores to describe the impact a given story/theme/element will have on specific KPIs: 
≤79 Disappointing  80-89 Challenging  90-109 Average  110-119 Promising  120+ Outstanding

Who shows up for Scorsese-Dicaprio movies?
Males, but not to the extent one might assume. Across the 5 titles (Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006), Shutter Island (2010), and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), there is a slight male skew (55%), which increases to 62-63% male for rough and tumble crime dramas The Departed and Gangs of New York. However, the mystery thriller Shutter Island (48% male) and the biographical drama The Aviator (46% male), attract more female viewers. There is less variation by age, with 69-74% of audiences aged 30+ across all titles.

As for Killers of the Flower Moon, a Western crime drama, the audience will certainly be older and male-skewing, but Dicaprio in a crime mystery will also draw in older females.

What makes Scorsese-Dicaprio narratives so compelling?
Seeing the darker side of human nature. Themes of Corruption & Greed (116) are central to the narratives and box office success. Greed also features prominently in Killers of the Flower Moon, where Osage tribe members experience newfound wealth due to the oil on their land. DiCaprio’s protagonists often face moral or psychological challenges that test their limits. For example, The Wolf of Wall Street is an explicit portrayal of the dangers of unchecked greed, while The Aviator explores the moral dilemmas that arise from pursuing success at any cost. In The Departed, the tension between personal ambition and moral duty drives the story.

What experience do viewers get from these movies?
Increasing tension and suspense as if the walls are closing in. Criminal Investigations (115) play a central role, heightening the stakes and driving the story forward. Viewers are left waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop.” In both Shutter Island and The Departed, DiCaprio portrays a law enforcement officer who becomes entangled in complex situations. Notably, in Killers of the Flower Moon, DiCaprio takes on a different role as the husband of one of the Osage tribe members, rather than the FBI agent leading the murder investigation, but is entangled in the conspiracy that the FBI are investigating.

What else can viewers expect to see?
Power struggles, both violent and subtle. Sudden Violence (118) is a common element of the canon, particularly in the portrayal of the brutal lives of crime families. The unpredictable actions of organized crime in The Departed and the street warfare in Gangs of New York exemplify this. However, not all conflicts are overtly violent. The intense corporate battles in The Aviator serve as a prime example. In Killers of the Flower Moon, the power struggle will likely take the form of DiCaprio’s character facing conflicting loyalties between his Osage wife and his powerful uncle.

What is a defining quality of the characters DiCaprio has played across the canon?
The embodiment of paranoia. DiCaprio’s characters are often grappling with their identities and navigating deception (Identity and Deception, 112). Examples include infiltrating dangerous organizations in The Departed and Gangs of New York, and contending with mental instability in Shutter Island and The Aviator. These internal struggles add depth to the characters and contribute to the films’ thematic explorations.

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*Publicly released trailers for series are evaluated using Vault AI’s algorithms – utilizing our proprietary 120K+ story element database alongside ratings performance and other datasets – to identify unique combinations of stories, themes, characters, and genre elements that will drive success.

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