Francis Ford Coppola is putting down $120 million of his own money to make his long-in-the-works passion project “Megalopolis.” Coppola wrote “Megalopolis” in the early 1980s and has been reportedly in talks with Oscar Isaac, Forest Whitaker and Cate Blanchett to finally get the film off the ground. The issue Coppola has faced is that the movie is such an ambitious and expensive original idea that no major studio would ever touch it.
Speaking to GQ magazine, Coppola said that major Hollywood executives reacted to his “Megalopolis” pitch 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.”
Coppola 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.”
The plot of “Megalopolis” remains something of a mystery. Coppola has said in the past that it’s to be made in the tradition of a Roman epic but set in a utopian version of New York City called New Rome. GQ described the project as “a love story that is also a philosophical investigation of the nature of man.” To fund the project, Coppola is putting up his own $120 million and “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 to finally make the film.”
“Well, if I were Disney, or if I were Paramount, or if I were Netflix,” Coppola said, “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.”
The $120 million figure is a big one, but Coppola said, “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.”
When GQ asked if self-funding “Megalopolis” could mirror his experience on “One From the Heart,” a massive flop that Coppola spent years paying back the bank for, the director responded, “I couldn’t care less about the financial impact whatsoever. It means nothing to me.”
“Megalopolis” remains in development for now. Coppola has not yet announced a production start date.