Deadline‘s “The Dish” (Justin Kroll + Mike Fleming, Jr.) has heard that Martin Scorsese‘s Killers of the Flower Moon, which has been screened in rough-cut form and raved about, is skipping the ’22 Oscar race in favor of a possible “global showcase premiere” at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. This would be followed by Flower Moon opening theatrically through Paramount before the big Apple + debut in the mid-to-late fall, blah blah.

HE worships Mr. Scorsese and is down for Flower Moon this year or next or any which way, but there’s no masking the immense clouds of disappointment that this story has created…a deep black shadow has fallen over the Oscar landscape.

The idea of Apple, Paramount and Scorsese having seemingly lost their nerve and cut bait on the ’22 Best Picture race…it’s just shattering.

I’m not saying that I know anything or that the alleged take-it-to-Cannes plan is locked in (I hope it isn’t!), and yes, this may be thin speculation on Kroll-and-Fleming’s part, but Variety‘s Clayton Davis is also saying it’s real, and I’ve got the blues, man…I’ve really got the blues.

If the Kroll-Fleming-Davis story turns out to be true, here’s my theory: When Scorsese’s The Irishman, a brilliant, gut-slamming gangster epic for the ages, lost the Best Picture prize to Bong Joon-ho‘s generally decent but slightly underwhelming Parasite (certainly in terms of the con-artist family letting the fired maid into the home during a cats-and-dogs rainstorm — easily the most moronic plot turn of the 21st Century), Hollywood marketing savants were confronted with a new social chemistry.

Scorsese’s loss told them that (a) younger Academy voters regarded the Scorsese gangster brand (and in fact white-guy directors in general) as yesterday’s news, and (b) were more excited about giving the Best Picture Oscar to a South Korean film that was directed and written by a chubby, non-white guy…that was the message they wanted to send.

So even though Killers of the Flower Moon, a sprawling historical melodrama set in 1920s Oklahoma, qualifies as an anti-white-guy “woke” film, there is concern on the part of nervous-nelly Apple and Paramount execs. After the Irishman setback they’re a tiny bit afraid that the once-prestigious Scorsese brand is no longer a slam-dunker (certainly among younger, female and person-of-color Academy members), and that Flower Moon needs a big, months-long build-up campaign because your 50-and-under Academy members (not to mention the overseas contingent) are half-inclined to look askance at a big, costly, ambitious film by a white-guy director who, after all, has had his four-decade period of glory (Mean Streets through The Wolf of Wall Street), and that the worm has turned and it’s time to celebrate movies that are either about or made by people of color for a change.

This, I’m afraid to say, is what might be behind the Great Killers of the Flower Moon Withdrawal Strategy of mid ’22, if, God forbid, the Kroll-Fleming-Davis story turns out to be true. Which it probably is.