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What to Expect from Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Megalopolis’

Megalopolis, Francis Ford Coppola’s apocalyptic film about the destruction and rebuilding of New York City, is nearing completion, despite rumors to the contrary. The ambitious “passion project” by the 83-year-old director promises to be the capstone of his long and illustrious career. Coppola is serving as both screenwriter and director for the epic.

No release date has yet been announced, and the film still lacks a distributor, but industry insiders are speculating it may debut in the fall of 2024 around the time of the presidential elections, which may prove apocalyptic in their own right. It’s been suggested that NEON would be a likely candidate to distribute the film when it’s ready for release: the studio is currently distributing Ferrari, starring Adam Driver, who will be playing the lead role in Megalopolis.

Coppola has described his venture as a contemporary version of goings-on in ancient Rome, specifically the second Catiline conspiracy in the time of the Caesars. In Megalopolis, the mayor of New York City is portrayed as a harried official struggling to keep things in order in the face of financial chaos and natural disaster. Much of the film’s narrative focuses on the mayor’s clash with a visionary architect who strives to address issues of environmental dysfunction and social inequality.

In an interview with Collider, Driver said the upcoming epic is going to be “wild.” He lavished praise on Coppola’s undertaking, adding that “It’s so imaginative and big and epic, and it’s bold. It takes a risk, and I couldn’t be more excited by it.”

Driver continued: “But it has been one of the best – without hyperbole – best shooting experiences of my life. Watching [Coppola] work that crew, that design team, he has such a command over cinematic language and an archive in his mind of shots that are so beautiful. And doing something so ambitious, and on his own terms, that you would think that it would be dictatorial or really controlled, but he is the most warm, open, thoughtful, director…”

Driver will be playing the role of Caesar in Megalopolis, alongside a cast with other stars of the first magnitude including Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel, Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Schwartzman, Shia LaBeouf, Talia Shire, Grace VanderWall, Kathryn Hunter, James Remar, Chloe Fineman, Isabelle Kusman, D. B. Sweeney, and Giancarlo Esposito. They will be joined by newcomers Madeleine Gardella and Bailey Ives.

Shooting on Megalopolis began in November 2022 at Trilith Studios in Georgia. Although the film shoot has been beset by technical difficulties and the loss of key production personnel, including the art director and visual-effects team, Coppola has denied rumors that he may have trouble completing the ambitious project. He told an interviewer: “I love my cast, I love what I’m getting each day, I am on schedule and on budget, and that’s what is important to me.”

Backing him up was Adam Driver, who was quoted as saying: “All good here! Not sure what set you’re talking about! … I’ve been on sets that were chaotic and this one is far from it.”

Francis Ford Coppola is widely regarded as one of the iconic auteurs ever, having created such classic films as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Rainmaker, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and The Outsiders. He’s won five Academy Awards during his half-century career. Coppola himself is reportedly bankrolling Megalopolis, which is estimated to cost between $100-$120 million.

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Edward Moran
Edward Moran
Edward Moran began his journalistic career many decades ago as a theater and cinema reviewer for Show Business and the New York Theater Review. More recently he contributed film reviews to and Movie Sleuth. His writings have appeared in publications as diverse as the Times Literary Supplement, Publishers Weekly, the Paris Review, and the Massachusetts Review. Moran also edited a memoir by Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Christine Choy. He served as literary advisor to her film Hyam Plutzik: American Poet, which was the keynote film in the American Perspectives series at the 2007 Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.


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