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At 85, Francis Ford Coppola Self-funds $100 Million Production

Francis Ford Coppola

After months of being surrounded by controversy, Francis Ford Coppola's long-awaited feature film, Megalopolis, will finally make its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May, after 40 years in the making.

This passion project, funded by Coppola himself with $120 million, has been in development since 1983 when Coppola penned the initial version of the screenplay.

Coppola began crafting "Megalopolis" in the early 1980s, with the earliest mention of the project dating back to discussions during the 1982 filming of "The Outsiders." It seems that this idea had been brewing in his mind shortly after the release of "Apocalypse Now" in 1979, perhaps even earlier.

Over the decades, the project has seen numerous announcements, delays, and cancellations, with footage being shot and discarded on multiple occasions.

A Turbulent Production Journey

Apocalypse Now is often hailed as one of the quintessential war films in cinematic history. While overshadowed by Coppola's Godfather trilogy in his body of work, it remains a significant project in his repertoire. However, using Apocalypse Now as a benchmark for enduring legacy is complex. Despite its cinematic brilliance, the ongoing controversy surrounding the depiction of Vietnamese characters has tarnished its reputation over time. Thus, while certain aspects of Apocalypse Now are celebrated, the integrity of its legacy is mired in controversy.

This same complexity characterizes the production of Megalopolis. Conceived by Coppola in 1979, bringing it to fruition has been a formidable undertaking. Struggling to secure a studio for production and distribution, the renowned filmmaker opted to finance the ambitious project himself. Moreover, the production witnessed key crew members departing midway, forcing Coppola and his team to navigate unforeseen challenges to completion.

Cast

Featuring a star-studded cast including Adam Driver, Nathalie Emmanuel, Giancarlo Esposito, Aubrey Plaza, Jon Voight, Shia LaBeouf, Laurence Fishburne, and Dustin Hoffman, alongside Coppola's sister Talia Shire and his nephew Jason Schwartzman.

"I've known Francis since the centenary of cinema in 1995, and when I had my first year at Cannes, he came to present Apocalypse Now Redux," remarked Cannes director Thierry Frémaux . "Megalopolis is a project that he has been eager to realize for so long, and he accomplished it independently, in his unique artistic vision."

Having wrapped production last year, Megalopolis remains shrouded in mystery regarding its plot details. It has long been regarded as a challenging endeavor to bring to the screen: an epic narrative spanning ancient history and a dystopian future, filled with esoteric themes and intricate concepts.

Cannes Competition Debut

Cannes appears to be a natural choice for Coppola's endeavor, given his history with the festival. He famously debuted Apocalypse Now there in 1979, a film that faced similar production challenges before earning acclaim following its Cannes premiere.

The confirmation of the premiere came via a source close to the project who spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday under the condition of anonymity due to lack of authorization to make the announcement. Hollywood Trade Deadline initially reported that "Megalopolis" is set to screen in competition at the 77th Cannes Film Festival on May 17.

"Megalopolis" is a project Coppola has long aspired to realize, and he achieved it independently, staying true to his artistic vision," remarked Fremaux. “He has contributed to the Cannes Film Festival's legacy, and it would be a privilege to welcome him back as a filmmaker presenting his latest work.”

Logline

The official logline for Megalopolis depicts it as a narrative revolving around "political ambition, genius, and conflicted love," with the lingering shadow of Rome's destiny haunting a contemporary society grappling with unresolved social issues.

No distributor or release date yet

Despite lacking a distributor or release date, reports indicate Coppola's struggle to secure a prominent distribution deal for his 135-minute epic, centered around a dystopian society amidst an energy revolution. Earlier this year, the film was presented to potential buyers, including Universal, Netflix, and Sony, at a special industry event. Responses varied from glowing praise to blunt criticism, with one studio head remarking, "It's so not good, and it was so sad watching it." Despite these mixed reactions, the film remains without a distributor.

Previous reports described turmoil on the Megalopolis set, citing high staff turnover, budgetary concerns, and visual effects issues. Both Coppola and lead actor Adam Driver denied these allegations, asserting that the production is proceeding smoothly and dismissing claims of chaos on set.

We all eagerly anticipate the outcome of Francis Ford Coppola's "Megalopolis." This could potentially mark the master filmmaker's final contribution to cinema, making it all the more significant given his four-decade-long investment in its creation.

Coppola recently shared 30 minutes of "Megalopolis" with Spike Lee during a meeting in Atlanta, as announced by Lee on Instagram. Lee's reaction was one of amazement, expressing his sentiments with an enthusiastic "OMG amazing." However, it's worth noting that Lee's writing style can sometimes be a bit scattered; he mistakenly referred to the film as "Metropolis."

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