Appian Way Productions
Company typePrivate
FounderLeonardo DiCaprio
HeadquartersWest Hollywood, California, U.S.
Key people
Jennifer Davisson (President of Production)[1]

Appian Way Productions is a Los Angeles–based film and television production company founded in 2001 by actor and producer Leonardo DiCaprio. Jennifer Davisson serves as President of Production. Since its launch, Appian Way has released a diverse slate of films, including Academy Award–winning films The Aviator (2004) and The Revenant (2015), Academy Award–nominated films The Ides of March (2011) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), as well as the drama The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004), the comedy-drama Gardener of Eden (2007), the biographical crime drama Public Enemies (2009), the psychological horror Orphan (2009), the psychological thriller Shutter Island (2010), the crime dramas Out of the Furnace (2013) and Live by Night (2016), and the biographical drama Richard Jewell (2019). The company has also produced the series Greensburg (2008–2010), Frontiersman,[1] and The Right Stuff (2020) for Disney+.

In recent years, Appian Way has been producing documentary films, especially pertaining to progressive environmental change.[2] The company worked in partnership with National Geographic to produce Before the Flood (2016). It also worked with Netflix on the Oscar-nominated Virunga (2014) and Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014). Appian is in partnership with Netflix on several additional documentaries, including How to Change the World (2015), Catching the Sun (2015), and The Ivory Game (2016). Other projects released include The 11th Hour (2007), Sea of Shadows (2019), which won the Audience Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Ice on Fire (2019) with HBO, and And We Go Green (2019).



Appian Way Productions was founded by Leonardo DiCaprio in 2001.[3][4] It takes its name from the Roman road of the same name. Its first film was The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004), starring Sean Penn as Samuel Byck, who attempted to assassinate US president Richard Nixon in 1974.[5] It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.[6] The company's next film was the 2004 biopic The Aviator, produced in association with Forward Pass, Intermedia, and Initial Entertainment Group. Based on the 1993 non-fiction book Howard Hughes: The Secret Life by Charles Higham, the film depicted the life of Howard Hughes (DiCaprio), an aviation pioneer who became a successful film producer between the late 1920s and late 1940s while simultaneously growing more unstable due to severe obsessive–compulsive disorder.[7][8] Writing for The Daily Telegraph, Sukhdev Sandhu described the film as "a gorgeous tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood" even though it "tips the balance of spectacle versus substance in favour of the former". He praised Martin Scorsese's direction, DiCaprio and the supporting cast.[9] The film proved to be a commercial success, with a worldwide gross of $213.7 million against a budget of $110 million.[10] It earned a total of eleven nominations at the 77th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Scorsese) and Best Actor (DiCaprio), and won five of them, including a Best Supporting Actress award for Cate Blanchett.[11]

A photograph of Leonardo DiCaprio.
Leonardo DiCaprio—the founder of Appian Way Productions. Alongside producing many of the company's films, he also played roles in a few of them

Kevin Connolly, a close friend of DiCaprio, directed Appian Way's next film—the comedy drama Gardener of Eden (2007), which, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck, "lack[ed] the necessary dramatic urgency or black humor to connect with audiences".[12] A few months later, Appian Way released The 11th Hour, a documentary about global warming. The film, featuring 50 experts who suggested solutions to various environmental problems, won the Earthwatch Environmental Film Award through the National Geographic Channel in March 2008.[13] DiCaprio wrote a three-season television series Greensburg (2008–10) which was produced by the company.[14]

Appian Way later produced another biopic, Public Enemies (2009), a Michael Mann-directed mob drama starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.[15] Following the final years of the notorious bank robber John Dillinger (Depp) as he is pursued by FBI agent Melvin Purvis during Great Depression, the film was an adaptation of Bryan Burrough's non-fiction book Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34. A commercial success, it also received generally positive reviews, though critics found historical inaccuracies in the film.[16][17] The company, along with Dark Castle Entertainment, released the 2009 psychological horror film Orphan, which told the story of a couple who, after the death of their unborn child, adopt a mysterious nine-year-old girl. The film was considered by the adoption community to promote negative stereotypes about orphans.[18] Although the film received mixed reviews, it was a commercial success.[19]

Scorsese reunited with the company to make the film Shutter Island (2010), a psychological thriller based on the 2003 novel of same name by Dennis Lehane. DiCaprio played U.S. Marshal Edward "Teddy" Daniels, who investigates a psychiatric facility located on an island but eventually comes to question his own sanity. A commercial success, the film received generally positive reviews; Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian praised the film's direction and performances but criticized its "silly twist ending", calling it "supremely exasperating".[20][21]

2011 onward

Red Riding Hood, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, was Appian Way's first release in 2011. The film, set in a village haunted by werewolves, follows a young girl who falls in love with an orphan woodcutter, much to her family's displeasure. Earlier in production, the film was titled The Girl with the Red Riding Hood.[22] Although it was poorly received by critics—Mary Pols of Time named it one of the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2011—it had moderate box-office returns.[23][24] The company's second release in 2011 was Detachment, a Tony Kaye-directed drama about the high school education system.[25] George Clooney directed and co-produced the company's final film of the year The Ides of March, which is based on Beau Willimon's play Farragut North. Starring Ryan Gosling, Clooney and Philip Seymour Hoffman, this political drama takes place during a presidential primary, when an ambitious press secretary (Gosling) becomes embroiled in a political scandal. The film received positive reviews;[26] one from The Guardian praised the direction and the performances of the cast.[27]

A picture of Martin Scorsese smiling away from the camera.
Martin Scorsese has directed three of the company's films, The Aviator (2004), Shutter Island (2010) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), all of which were successful.

Three films were produced by Appian Way in 2013; the first was Runner Runner, an ensemble crime thriller, which The Guardian's Xan Brooks described as "a lazy, trashy film that barely goes through the motions".[28] The thriller Out of the Furnace, the company's second release, was also negatively received by critics and was a box office bomb.[29] Scorsese directed the company's final film in 2013—The Wolf of Wall Street, a biopic on the life of Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio), a New York stockbroker who runs a firm that engages in securities fraud and money laundering on Wall Street in the 1990s. The screenplay was adapted by Terence Winter from Belfort's memoir of the same name.[30] The film was banned in Kenya, Malaysia and Nepal for its controversial depiction of events, explicit sexual content, profanity, and hard drug use.[31][32] Nonetheless, it was a commercial success, becoming the 17th-highest-grossing film of 2013.[33] The film was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, although it failed to win in any category.[34]

In 2015, DiCaprio produced and co-starred with Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson in The Revenant, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. This biographical western thriller is based on in part on Michael Punke's 2002 novel of the same name, which itself was inspired by the frontiersman Hugh Glass's survival after being mauled by a grizzly bear in 1823. Co-produced with Regency Enterprises, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Anonymous Content and M Productions, the film was well received with particular praise for the performances, direction and cinematography. "Bleak as hell but considerably more beautiful, this nightmarish plunge into a frigid, forbidding American outback is a movie of pitiless violence, grueling intensity and continually breathtaking imagery", according to Justin Change of Variety.[35] Built on a budget of $135 million, the film earned $533 million worldwide.[36] The Revenant received 12 nominations at the 88th Academy Awards, and won three, including Best Director and Best Actor.[37]

In May 2016, Appian Way Productions signed a three-year, first-look production deal with Paramount Pictures.[38] In December 2016, the company released Live by Night, based on the 2012 novel of same name by Dennis Lehane. Directed by, written by and starring Ben Affleck, this Prohibition-era gangster drama received largely unenthusiastic reviews and failed to recoup its $65 million production budget.[39] Also that year, the company produced four documentaries, Davi's Way, The Last Shaman, The Ivory Game and Before the Flood, the last of which won the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Documentary.[40][41]

In 2017, Appian Way produced Under the Bed, a television film thriller about a young woman trying to get over a breakup, while befriending a stalker on social media.[42] In association with Blumhouse Productions and GK Films, the company will produce Delirium, a supernatural horror film scheduled for a 2017 release.[43]

In 2023, Appian Way produced The Featherweight, the debut film of Robert Kolodny, which had its world premiere in competition at the 80th Venice International Film Festival[44] and Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon, which was distributed by Apple TV+ and Paramount Pictures.[45]

More recently, the studio signed first-look deals with Apple for documentaries and television and with Sony Pictures Entertainment for feature films.[46][47]


Release Date Title Directors Production partners Distributors
December 25, 2004 The Aviator Martin Scorsese Forward Pass
Intermedia Films
Initial Entertainment Group
Warner Bros. Pictures
(North America)
Buena Vista International
December 29, 2004 The Assassination of Richard Nixon Niels Mueller Anhelo Productions
Esperanto Filmoj
April 26, 2007 Gardener of Eden[48] Kevin Connolly Virtual Studios
July 24, 2009 Orphan Jaume Collet-Serra Dark Castle Entertainment
Studio Babelberg Motion Pictures[49]
Warner Bros. Pictures
(North America/France)
Kinowelt Filmverleih
February 19, 2010 Shutter Island Martin Scorsese Phoenix Pictures
Sikelia Productions
Paramount Pictures
March 11, 2011 Red Riding Hood Catherine Hardwicke Warner Bros. Pictures
March 16, 2011 Detachment Tony Kaye Tribeca Film
October 7, 2011 The Ides of March George Clooney Columbia Pictures
Smokehouse Pictures
Exclusive Media
Cross Creek Pictures
Sony Pictures Releasing
October 4, 2013 Runner Runner Brad Furman Regency Enterprises
New Regency
Double Feature Films
20th Century Fox
December 6, 2013 Out of the Furnace Scott Cooper Red Granite Pictures
Scott Free Productions
Relativity Media
December 25, 2013 The Wolf of Wall Street Martin Scorsese Red Granite Pictures
Sikelia Productions
EMJAG Productions
Paramount Pictures
(North America/Japan)
Universal Pictures
December 25, 2015 The Revenant Alejandro González Iñárritu Regency Enterprises
RatPac Entertainment
New Regency
Anonymous Content
M Productions
20th Century Fox
December 25, 2016 Live by Night Ben Affleck RatPac-Dune Entertainment
Pearl Street Films
Warner Bros. Pictures
May 22, 2018 Delirium Dennis Iliadis Blumhouse Productions
GK Films
Universal Pictures
November 21, 2018 Robin Hood Otto Bathurst Summit Entertainment
Safehouse Pictures
Thunder Road Films
December 13, 2019 Richard Jewell Clint Eastwood Malpaso Productions
Misher Films
75 Year Plan Productions
Warner Bros. Pictures
October 20, 2023 Killers of the Flower Moon Martin Scorsese Imperative Entertainment
Sikelia Productions
Apple Studios
Paramount Pictures
Apple TV+
TBA Billy Summers[52] TBA Bad Robot Warner Bros. Pictures
TBA The Featherweight Robert Kolodny Golden Ratio Film
Blisspoint Entertainment
TBA Queen of Bones Robert Budreau Lumanity Productions
Productivity Media





  1. ^ A television film thriller, the production is inspired by true events.[42]


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