It’s been a decade since Francis Ford Coppola’s last film (Twixt) hit theaters, but it may finally be the time for the famed director to tackle his passion project: Megalopolis.
Francis Ford Coppola began writing Megalopolis in the 1980s but recognized that it would require a huge budget to match its massive scope, and so it sat on a shelf for decades until he finally decided to give it another shot in 2001. He began shooting second-unit footage but decided to pull the plug after the 9/11 attacks. As the story revolved around the reconstruction of New York City following a major disaster, he felt that such a project wouldn’t sit well with audiences so soon after the real-life tragedy. According to Deadline, Coppola is now ready to make Megalopolis a reality and he’s already begun talking with actors such as Oscar Isaac, Forest Whitaker, Cate Blanchett, Jon Voight, Zendaya, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, and James Caan. Coppola is so committed to making the film that he’s willing to put up $100 million of his own money to make it happen.
I’m committed to making this movie, I’d like to make it in the fall of 2022. 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’s interesting about that is, there was a documentary about my dream studio, when I owned Zoetrope Studios and I was unafraid to risk everything I had in order to make my dream come true. Well, I really haven’t changed my personality, at all.
Coppola continued, “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.” Although Megalopolis is set in a contemporary city and explores modern themes, it has its roots in ancient Rome. “The concept of the film is a Roman epic, in the traditional Cecile B. DeMille or Ben-Hur way, but told as a modern counterpart focusing on America,” Coppola said. “It’s based on The Catiline Conspiracy, which comes to us from ancient Rome. This was a famous duel between a patrician, Catiline, and that part will be played by Oscar Isaac, and the famous Cicero, who will be Forest Whitaker. He is now the beleaguered mayor of New York, during a financial crisis, close to the one that Mayor Dinkins had. This story takes place in a new Rome, a Roman epic set in modern times. The time set is not a specific year in modern New York, it’s an impression of modern New York, which I call New Rome.” Despite giving us films like Apocalpyse Now and The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola has certainly had his share of struggles with getting projects off the ground, so I can only hope that Megalopolis will finally emerge from its decades-long limbo.