Francis Ford Coppola Still Wants To Make Megalopolis, Says He'll Fund The $100 Million Budget Himself

Famous wine salesman, fan of beret hats, and acclaimed film director Francis Ford Coppola has been trying to make his dream project "Megalopolis" for several decades now. The script was penned back in the 1980s, but Coppola didn't think he was ready to make it until 2001. It was then he started shooting second unit footage. And then the unthinkable happened: September 11, 2001. The "Megalopolis" script deals with rebuilding New York City after a disaster, and Coppola (probably correctly) assumed that no one would want to watch a movie about that in the wake of 9/11.

But in 2019, a curious thing happened: Coppola, who hadn't shot a feature since 2011's "Twixt," announced he was ready to finally make "Megalopolis." Now, two years later, Coppola is keeping the dream alive, and is willing to get the movie made even if he has to spend (a lot) of his own money to make it happen. 

The Dream Picture

Deadline has the news that Francis Ford Coppola is still hoping to make "Megalopolis" made, come hell or high water. The filmmaker continues to want a big, impressive cast for the film, and names that are being mentioned now include Oscar Isaac, Forest Whitaker, Cate Blanchett, Jon Voight, Zendaya, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jessica Lange, who are all being sought after. The film will also reunite Coppola with his "Godfather" actor James Caan, which is exciting in its own right (and while I'm on this subject, let me add that I could certainly do without Jon Voight being part of this cast). 

To be clear, we've been here before. Coppola first mentioned he might finally make "Megalopolis" in 2019, where he said, "I plan this year to begin my longstanding ambition to make a major work utilizing all I have learned during my long career, beginning at age 16 doing theater, and that will be an epic on a grand scale, which I've entitled Megalopolis." He added:

"It is unusual; it will be a production on a grand scale with a large cast. It makes use of all of my years of trying films in different styles and types culminating in what I think is my own voice and aspiration. It is not within the mainstream of what is produced now, but I am intending and wishing and in fact encouraged, to begin production this year."

That same year, word broke that Coppola had signed with big-time Hollywood agency CAA, and that they planned to help him finally get the movie made. Since then, though, we haven't heard much. But Coppola hasn't given up. And according to the Deadline article, the filmmaker has been "emboldened" by a "recent sale of a portion of his considerable vineyard holdings in Sonoma County to Delicato Family Wines," which has "fortified his resources to borrow against." The filmmaker hopes the movie can be " a North Star for a younger audience, and society in general, searching for optimism in a moment where global warming is taking its toll, and polarizing politics and digital misinformation are so pronounced that half the country is resisting Covid vaccines that scientists honed in a remarkably short time to combat a global pandemic."

Coppola adds:

"It has become like a religious war, in that it's not about anything logical. I think the big news here is that I am still the same as I was 20 years ago or 40 years ago. I'm still willing to do the dream picture, even if I have to put up my own money, and I am capable of putting up $100 million if I have to here. I don't want to, but I will do it if I have to..."

The director says he'd like to make the movie in the fall of 2022, saying: 

"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. The picture's going to cost between $100 million and $120 million. Needless to say, I hope it's closer to $100 million. I'm prepared to match some outside financing, almost dollar for dollar. In other words, I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is."

What Is Megalopolis?

"Megalopolis" originated as a screenplay Coppola wrote in the 1980s. It was a sprawling 212-page script that would require a massive scope, and budget. Coppola was well aware of potential limitations, so he sat on the script but never forgot about it. In early 2001, he started shooting second unit footage to gear up for production. And then came the September 11th attacks. Coppola's script involved a mega-disaster in New York City, and he felt like audiences wouldn't want to watch a movie like that after 9/11. But he continued to think about the unmade film, and talk about it.

"The theme is the contest between the past and the future," Coppola said back in 2002. "Although it is set against the backdrop of a giant modern city like New York, it also speaks of Rome. The founders of modern America based many of their ideas on the Roman republic." The filmmaker also offered more plot details: 

 "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."

While Coppola's filmography is a little all over the place, he's also one of our great filmmakers, and the idea of him returning with a big cast to make a big, ambitious movie is thrilling. I truly hope the director gets this film made sooner rather than later, because I have a feeling the end result will be something worth talking about.