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Francis Ford Coppola to Spend Own $120 Million on New Epic Film ‘Megalopolis’

Francis Ford Coppola is set to spend $120 million of his own money to make his long-delayed passion project, Megalopolis. The filmmaker penned the epic sci-fi drama in the early 1980s, and is now determined to self-fund the feature, he revealed during an interview with GQ magazine.

The five-time Academy Award-winning writer-director has spent the past four decades trying to get production on the Megalopolis started, but faced continuous setbacks. The delays occurred because of the fact that the movie is such an ambitious and expensive original idea that major studios aren’t interested in financing it.

During his interview with GQ, Coppola said that major Hollywood executives reacted to his pitch for Megalopolis in the “same way they did when I had won five Oscars and was the hottest film director in town and walked in with Apocalypse Now and said, ‘I’d like to make this next.’ I own Apocalypse Now. Do you know why I own Apocalypse Now? Because no one else wanted it.”

The Emmy Award-nominated filmmaker added: “So imagine, if that was the case when I was 33 or whatever the age and I had won every award and had broken every record and still absolutely no one wanted to join me, [then how do you think they’re reacting now?] I know that Megalopolis, the more personal I make it, and the more like a dream in me that I do it, the harder it will be to finance.”

Few details about the plot for Coppola’s planned sci-fi drama have been released, even four decades after the scribe penned the script. The writer has said in the past that Megalopolis will be made in the tradition of a Roman epic, but will be set in a utopian version of New York City called New Rome. In its coverage of its interview with the scribe-helmer, GQ described the project as “a love story that is also a philosophical investigation of the nature of man.”

In order to fund the film, the helmer sold a significant piece of his wine empire so that he could use a percentage of the sale as collateral for the line of credit he needs to finally make the project. “Well, if I were Disney, or if I were Paramount, or if I were Netflix, and I had to raise $120 million, and I had to start saying yes and paying people, how would I do it? They all do it one way. You have a line of credit, okay? I have a line of credit,” he stated.

Further speaking about films released by big studios like Disney, Paramount and Netflix, Coppola stated that modern blockbuster movies are all based on the same prototype. He went on to criticize the similarities among big studio films in his interview with GQ.

“There used to be studio films,” the filmmaker said. “Now there are Marvel pictures. And what is a Marvel picture? A Marvel picture is one prototype movie that is made over and over and over again to look different.”

Coppola also noted that he believes studio movies he considers to be good, including Dune and No Time to Die, share formulaic similarities. “Even the talented people – you could take Dune, made by Denis Villeneuve, an extremely talented, gifted artist, and you could take No Time to Die, directed by… Cary Fukanaga – extremely gifted, talented, beautiful artists – and pull the same sequence out of both of them and put them together.

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The same sequence where the cars all crash into each other.

“They all have that stuff in it, and they almost have to have it, if they’re going to justify their budget.

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And that’s the good films, and the talented filmmakers,” Coppola added. “I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again.”

The director added that while the drama’s projected budget is extremely large, “It’s not as if $120 million is the extent of what I have. I have bequeathed much to all my children. And then they themselves, the greatest thing I bequeathed to my children is their know-how and their talent. [My kids are] not going to have a problem. They’re all very capable. And they have Inglenook [the family winery], where we are. There’s no debt on this place. None.”

GQ also asked Coppola if self-funding Megalopolis would replicate his experience on the 1982 romantic musical drama, One From the Heart, which he co-wrote and directed. The movie lost millions of dollars on at the box office, and as a result, he spent years paying the bank its money back.

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He responded: “I couldn’t care less about the financial impact whatsoever. It means nothing to me.”

Megalopolis is currently still in development, as the filmmaker hasn’t yet announced a production start date for the feature. He’s reportedly in talks to cast Golden Globe Award winner Oscar Isaac and fellow Oscar winners Forest Whitaker and Cate Blanchett in the epic sci-fi drama.

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.

Karen Benardello
Karen Benardello
As a life-long fan of films and television shows, and an endless passion for writing, Karen Benardello decided to combine the two for a career. She graduated from New York's LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic in 2008. Karen has since been working in the press in New York City, including interviewing film and television casts and crews, writing movie and television news articles and reviewing films and televisions series. Some of her highlights include attending such local events as the Tribeca Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and New York Comic-Con, as well as traveling across North America to attend such festivals as the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and the Toronto International Film Festival. She has been a member of the Women Film Critics Circle since 2012, and the New York Film Critics Online since 2019.


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