Francis Ford Coppola‘s long-gestating epic Megalopolis might finally be moving forward. The legendary filmmaker is reportedly in conversation with stars such as Oscar Isaac, Cate Blanchett, Forest Whitaker, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Zendaya to appear in the film, which he first wrote in the 1980s.
The story follows an architect who wants to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a devastating disaster. The passion project has been thwarted in the past by Coppola’s obligations to The Godfather trilogy, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and a variety of other issues.
But the director told Deadline:
“I’m committed to making this movie, I’d like to make it in the fall of 2022. I don’t have all my cast approved, but I have enough of them to have confidence that it is going to be a very exciting cast.”
This announcement comes just months after it was announced that Coppola will be selling his Napa Valley winery, which has made him a lot more money than any of his film work in the last thirty years. The move makes sense, as Coppola will be funding Megalopolis himself, and it’s estimated to cost between $100 million and $120 million. That’s a lot of wine!
Coppola is no stranger paying for big projects himself. He infamously bet his entire production company, American Zoetrope, on the success of 1981’s One From The Heart, an excellent film that bombed at the box office and put him into financial ruin.
That’s why you saw the director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now directing films like Jack and Peggy Sue Got Married in the 80s and 90s.
At least this time around it looks like he’ll have the financial stability to survive Megalopolis potentially not making much money.
And that’s a genuine possibility as Coppola’s three movies since the turn of the century – Youth Without Youth, Tetro, and Twixt – have all been experimental oddities that each made less than $3 million at the box office.
So Megalopolis, if it does finally enter production, will be easily Coppola’s biggest film since 1997’s legal drama The Rainmaker. He also told Deadline:
“This film I want to make, I believe is an exciting change from the kinds of movies being offered to the public. Mainly because it puts forward a fundamental message that it’s time for us to consider that the society we live in isn’t the only alternative available to us.
And that a utopia isn’t so much a little experimental place in the country; a utopia is a discussion of people asking the right questions on just that subject, and if the society we’re living in is the only alternative or, if for the sake of young people, there are better choices that should be discussed. Hopefully that is the influence I dream of this movie having.”
Nowadays, studios don’t give filmmakers the kind of huge budgets for passion projects like this. The $100 million+ budgets are reserved for franchises. So Coppola knows he’s swimming against the tide, but that’s something he’s done his entire life.
We’ll see if the names mentioned above do officially sign on for Megalopolis. Cinephiles will be holding their breath and crossing their fingers that Coppola can finally get the film made after all this time.