inside film

Hollywood can’t help being suspicious about Francis Ford Coppola – Megalopolis isn’t going to change that

Despite 50 years in the business and multiple Oscar wins, the veteran director still struggled to get funding for his latest film, which will make its debut at Cannes. Here, Geoffrey Macnab looks at why the man who brought us ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘The Godfather’ will always be an outsider

Friday 10 May 2024 06:00 BST
Francis Ford Coppola pictured in March 2022
Francis Ford Coppola pictured in March 2022 (AFP via Getty)

The gloating was obvious. “Just no way to position this movie,” read the headline in The Hollywood Reporter. Quoting one of many nonplussed film executives who had just seen Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis, the article asked if the $120m (£96m) passion project would be unreleasable in the US. After an industry screening in Los Angeles in late March, the film (premiering in competition in Cannes next week) was already being dismissed as yet another of its legendary director’s folies de grandeur. None of the big US studio distributors knew what to do with it – and none (as yet) has acquired it.

“It’s a movie that makes you think. It’s not only entertainment,” one spectator said after the screening – words that seemed to fill the studios with dread. Thinking doesn’t sell popcorn. The director, who auctioned off part of his lucrative wine business to finance the film, was reportedly asking for a sizeable chunk of the profits from the release – something the studios simply weren’t prepared to countenance.

Did they want to see him fall on his face? That was the impression given by some of the more snide post-screening remarks. It was as if the Hollywood executives were looking for payback for all those past occasions when Coppola had criticised their way of doing business, or when he had taken their money and produced a box-office turkey, such as the romantic musical One from the Heart (1981) or his car designer biopic Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988).

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