Francis Ford Coppola’s Personally Funded Passion Project “Megalopolis” Is Reportedly Hemorrhaging Money And Talent
Three years ago, nepo daddy Francis Ford Coppola was bemoaning the state of CINEMA, placing the blame for its nosedive from high art to repetitive drivel squarely on the shoulders of those “despicable” “Marvel pictures.” At the time, Francis was already decades into production on the “most ambitious film” of his career, Megalopolis, which he is so passionate about, he’s reportedly sunk “tens of millions” of his own money into bringing it to the screen. And he ain’t talking about your dang phone! Francis means the huge silver one with dazzling images and the sound that you can feel and the whatnot. Megalopolis may be one man’s vision, but it takes a lot of money and manpower to make that vision a reality, and Francis is reportedly hemorrhaging both.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, although Megalopolis is “halfway through its 80- to 90-day shoot,” due to the snowballing expense of bringing Megalopolis to Nicole Kidman’s private AMC theater, “it’s unclear whether the production can go forward as planned.” In those three years, since Francis dragged their asses, Marvel has released no fewer than seven movies. And Nic probably watched every single one of them on her phone while sitting on the can. Somehow, heartbreak feels good in a place like that. Something Francis might want to consider as he continues to flush his personal savings, and possibly what’s left of his career, down the toilet. THR reports:
Francis Ford Coppola’s latest movie, the sci-fi-tinged Megalopolis, has descended into chaos, according to multiple sources. The movie, currently halfway through shooting in Atlanta, has in the last week lost key creative talent including its production designer and supervising art director. That’s on top of losing the entire visual effects team in the first part of December.
To many insiders, the production is giving severe Apocalypse Now vibes, and it’s one on which the iconoclastic 83-year-old director is breaking a cardinal Hollywood rule: Never spend your own money.
Megalopolis has been a passion project decades in the making for the filmmaker, who turned heads in the fall of 2021 when news broke that he would be self-financing the $120 million film, partially with the tens of millions he made selling his popular Northern California wineries. The budget has since expanded and the film is now about halfway through its 80- to 90-day shoot, but a production source says it’s unclear whether the production can go forward as planned.
Now I’m not one to believe in curses or anything unless I see empirical evidence to the contrary, and in this case, I’m going to have to conclude that Megalopolis isn’t just cursed; it’s HELLA cursed. This is based almost entirely on the fact that Megalopolis boasts one of the most-dark sided casts I’ve seen since Cats. It stars Adam Driver (House of Gucci/cursed), Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones S8/cursed), Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler/cursed), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix/protected by Keanu’s counter spell-not cursed), Jon Voight (Anaconda/cursed), Talia Shire (technically a Coppola/covered under family curse), Jason Schwartzman (see previous), Dustin Hoffman (Ishtar/cursed) and Shia LaBeouf (is a curse). Not to mention that Francis’ own opus, Apocalypse Now, is as synonymous with cinematic disaster as the Titanic is with nautical disaster. Only the movie they made about the Titanic is synonymous with $$$$, and the movie they made about Apocalypse Now is synonymous with &!%#!.
The film centers on an architect who seeks to rebuild New York City as a utopia after a disaster. Sources say Coppola initially employed new virtual production technology similar to that used on The Mandalorian. But as the challenges and costs of that approach have mounted, those sources say the production is attempting to pivot to a less costly, more traditional greenscreen approach. “There’s no good answer here,” says a production executive. “[Coppola] is going to spend a lot more money than he intended. You can imagine how much he’s already got invested. It would be a very bitter pill not to finish it.”
Sources say Coppola, who has never made an effects-heavy movie, fired almost his entire visual effects team Dec. 9, with the rest of that department soon following. Mark Russell, a veteran whose credits include In the Heights and The Wolf of Wall Street, was leading the team as visual effects supervisor. (Coppola famously fired his visual effects department on Dracula 30 years ago.)
More recently, production designer Beth Mickle and supervising art director David Scott have departed. Between firings and resignations, a source says the film now has no art department. Russell, Mickle and Scott did not respond to requests for comment.
Francis responded to THR’s article in a statement to Deadline, saying, “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.” But he did admit that there’s been some turnover.
It’s difficult to make art with no art department. I wonder if Frances wasn’t getting what he needed from them and asked Shia to whisper horrendous insults into their ears like he asked Gary Oldman (cursed) to do to Winona Rider (see: Keanu clause) on Dracula (cured), but it backfired so they quit. Francis might consider switching to the Marvel method. They’re a well-oiled machine able to crank out one mega-blockbuster after another while employing thousands of artists from visual effects to production design year-round, all with the simple push of a button that reads “CTR C.” OK, you have to actually push two keys once, which can be a little tricky, and then you have to do it a second time when the movie is ready to be released, only for that one you go “CTR P” instead. Et Voila: It’s a hit! I’m sure Sofia can show him how. Best of all, The Curse of Shia LeBeouf is neutralized in a nanosecond! But if you’re not careful, you can fall into the same trap DC fell into, and your Shia Curse might mutate into a full-blown Ezra Hex. And for whatever reason, those are much harder to reverse.
Pic: Reynaud Julien/APS-Medias/ABACA/INSTARimages.com