‘Megalopolis’ plans shifted

Coppola set to rewrite futuristic digital pic

“Megalopolis,” Francis Ford Coppola’s Cecil B. DeMille-style epic set in New York, which in late summer seemed ready to roll, is headed back to the think tank.

Coppola has elected to do a rewrite on the futuristic, $50-$60 million-budgeted script, one that he conceived nearly 15 years ago. He plans to start production next fall.

Coppola will be wrestling with how to refashion a story that centers on the rebuilding of New York after a disastrous incident. But he already has what one source called “the envelope of the picture, in terms of real footage.”

Using the new, 24-frames per second digital camera with which George Lucas shot “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace,” Coppola has already lensed 30 hours of second unit footage around New York, which he shot prior to Sept. 11 and in the two weeks afterward.

Long-time associate Fred Roos said Coppola has staged several readings of the pic but not yet decided on a cast.

In an interview last year with Daily Variety, Coppola compared the New York of his film to “a New York of 15 years ago, when the city was badly in debt and desperate for renovation.

Future is now

Pic centers on two primary characters. The mayor is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the past, while an architect-planner is dedicated to leaping into the future.”When a massive renovation project is planned for an area running from 8th Avenue to the Hudson riverbank and from 34th to 20th streets, it becomes the nexus of a battle over vision, scale and profits, involving “every layer of society from workers, labor unions, the man on the street to the idea men, the money men and all those involved with them,” Coppola said.

Associates say the events of Sept. 11 have convinced Coppola all the more that his movie is relevant to the times. “I feel as though history has come to my doorstep,” Coppola old friends.

The filmmaker still hasn’t resolved how to fit the premonition into his film, however, friends say. Coppola is in the process of shifting his Zoetrope from New York back to San Francisco as he re-evaluates his venture.

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