Fairfax residents hoped for more after production of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’


FAIRFAX, Okla. – There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the release of the movie “Killers of the Flower Moon.” It is based on the Osage murders in the 1920s and was filmed primarily in Osage County.

David Grann, the author of the book “Killers of the Flower Moon,” says the majority of the murders took place in Fairfax, Okla. Now, in 2022, many downtown buildings are vacant and dilapidated. Some locals say it’s a shame that Hollywood film crews came to shoot the movie and left without any changes.

Joe Conner is one of those people. He is a psychology researcher and newspaper publisher at Fairfax. He said when film crews shot scenes there between March and November 2021, the town of 1,200 people doubled.

“In total, we probably had a total impact of about 150 to 200,000 for the city of Fairfax,” he told 2 News Oklahoma.

According to Visit Bartlesville, another top filming location, this city recorded an economic impact of approximately $35 million. The chamber director of the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce said sales tax revenue was the highest ever during filming.

“The core of it all was in Fairfax and we benefited the least economically from it,” Conner said.

But Conner says he had false hopes when finance staff at the film’s first production company told him they wanted to restore and host the premiere at the Tall Chief Theater in downtown Fairfax. It’s the same historic theater, built by Alex Tallchief, father of Maria Tallchief, America’s prima ballerina, that Conner is trying to save for the victims of the Osage murders.

Ultimately, Apple bought the film rights and he says interest in the theater and Fairfax began to wane.

“I would love if they could do an endowment for the city or something to help this community,” Conner said.

But he doesn’t hold his breath.

“If it’s a hit like they’re hoping for, a lot of people will make a lot of money out of it and we won’t have much to show for it,” Conner said. “I hope I’m wrong.”

Conner says the Tallchiefs built the theater after the murders to boost the morale of some of the Osages who still lived in Fairfax.

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