megalopolis movie

One of Francis Ford Coppola‘s never-made dream projects might finally become a reality. The legendary filmmaker has revealed after many years of delay, he will direct Megalopolis, a huge, sprawling epic about an architect trying to build a mini-Utopia in futuristic New York. Coppola wrote the script in the ’80s, but wasn’t ready to make Megalopolis until the dawn of the 21st century.

By 2001, he shot hours of second unit footage, and was gearing up to move into production. But everything came to a halt following the September 11th attacks. Since the story is set in New York, and was set in the wake of a major disaster, Coppola felt post-9/11 was the wrong time to bring Megalopolis to life. The filmmaker eventually moved on, and most assumed the project was lost forever. But now, Coppola is ready to resurrect it.

Deadline broke the news that Coppola is finally gearing up to make Megalopolis. “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,” the Godfather filmmaker said. “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.” In addition to this news, Deadline says Coppola wants Jude Law to star.

In the past, the filmmaker has described Megalopolis as a cross between the classic silent sci-fi film Metropolis, and Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. “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.”

In another past interview, Coppola dropped some 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 the 9/11 attacks were the initial reason Coppola shelved Megalopolis, another reason was that the film felt far too massive an undertaking. Coppola’s script runs 212 pages, which would make the movie well over 3 hours long. Then there’s the fact that the movie would have to feature massive, epic-looking sets and set pieces. After 9/11, Coppola felt as if he had no more energy for the project. But now, that energy has returned. It probably helps that special effects work has advanced greatly since 2001, which might enable the director to finally realize the large-scale visuals of the film.

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