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Francis Ford Coppola says he has no regrets about $120 million ‘Megalopolis’

A futuristic melodrama about a visionary architect (played by Adam Driver), Megalopolis is the first film in 13 years from the 85-year-old Coppola, best known for directing 'The Godfather' trilogy.
Last Updated : 18 May 2024, 09:25 IST
Last Updated : 18 May 2024, 09:25 IST

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At the Cannes Film Festival news conference Friday for his new film, Megalopolis, Francis Ford Coppola entered holding hands with his granddaughters.

“When I came here for Apocalypse Now, I had Sofia on my shoulder,” Coppola said of his daughter, who also became a director.

That trip to Cannes took place 45 years ago and ended with a major laurel, as Apocalypse Now won Coppola the Palme d’Or. It’s anyone’s guess how the new film will fare, since Megalopolis premiered at Cannes on Thursday night to wildly mixed reviews and has yet to score a distributor.

A futuristic melodrama about a visionary architect (played by Adam Driver), Megalopolis is the first film in 13 years from the 85-year-old Coppola, best known for directing the Godfather trilogy. But on the dais at Cannes, he was eager to share credit for the movie with his cast, which also includes Aubrey Plaza, Nathalie Emmanuel and Giancarlo Esposito.

“We made it together — I didn’t make the film,” Coppola insisted. “When you make a film like this, I didn’t know how to do it, let’s face it. The movie makes itself.”

The news conference started 20 minutes late, limiting the number of questions that could be posed, and none of the journalists who were called on asked Coppola about a recent report in The Guardian in which anonymous sources described a chaotic Megalopolis shoot and alleged that Coppola tried to kiss some of the female extras featured in a nightclub scene. (Executive co-producer Darren Demetre has said he was unaware of any harassment complaints made during the production, but acknowledged that Coppola gave 'kind hugs and kisses on the cheek to the cast and background players.')

Still, at the news conference the cast members alluded to a filming experience that was unusual. “It felt like experimental theater and that’s what made it feel rebellious and exciting,” Driver said.

Of Coppola, Plaza said, “Getting into his mind was kind of a trust fall.”

Esposito admitted that several things about Megalopolis still confused him, though he had a breakthrough at the premiere. “Toward the end of the movie last night, I came to tears,” he said. “I got it: I’m not supposed to know everything. I’m not supposed to know all the answers, and neither is Francis.”

Coppola is prone to tinkering with his movies, often issuing new cuts decades after the projects were released. Would he consider going back to the editing room on Megalopolis?

The director shrugged. “If there’s a way I can make the film a little better, I will try,” he said. “But I know that I’m done with it because I’ve already started writing another film.”

The toughest question posed to Coppola was about his continuing inability to sell Megalopolis to a studio.

“Their job is not so much to make good movies, but to pay their debt,” Coppola said, noting that the studio landscape could become even more inhospitable to films like his. “New companies like Amazon and Apple and Microsoft, they have plenty of money, so it might be that the studios we knew for so long, some wonderful ones, are not to be here in the future.”

Still, Coppola claimed to have no regrets about self-financing Megalopolis to the tune of $120 million, a sum he raised by taking out a line of credit on his winery. “I never cared about money,” he said. “My children, without exception, have wonderful careers without the fortune. They don’t need the fortune.”

The bigger regret would have been not to make the movie, said the filmmaker.

“There’s so many people when they die, they say, ‘Oh, I wish I had done this,’” Coppola said. “But when I die, I’m going to say, ‘I got to do this, and I got to see my daughter win an Oscar and I got to make wine and I got to make every movie I wanted to make.’ I’m going to be so busy thinking of all the things I got to do that when I die, I won’t notice it.”

This article originally appeared in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/17/movies/megalopolis-cannes-francis-coppola.html">The New York Times</a>.

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Published 18 May 2024, 09:25 IST

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