Francis Ford Coppola is finally ready to cut the ribbon on Megalopolis. The Godfather director has been working on his passion project sporadically since the '80s, but now he seems ready to release the film later this year. The sci-fi drama reportedly follows an architect who seeks to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a major disaster.
Megalopolis boasts an all-star cast of Adam Driver, Aubrey Plaza, Giancarlo Esposito, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker, Dustin Hoffman, Chloe Fineman, Shia LaBeouf, Talia Shire, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jason Schwartzman, and Jon Voight. Filming wrapped just this past March, after Coppola reportedly financed the project himself. In a 2007 interview with Ain't It Cool News, Coppola revealed that he directed Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Jack (1996), and The Rainmaker (1997) simply to "save money up" so that he "could keep that money separate and use it to make Megalopolis."
But even more production delays hit Coppola in 2001 following the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City. He scrapped his plans entirely, even following a (magical-sounding) table read, which included Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Nicolas Cage, Paul Newman, James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, and Uma Thurman. "It made it really pretty tough," Coppola said at the time. "A movie about the aspiration of a utopia with New York as a main character and then all of a sudden you couldn't write about New York without just dealing with what happened and the implications of what happened. The world was attacked and I didn't know how to try to do with that. I tried." In 2007, Coppola all but abandoned the project entirely.
Then, in May 2019, Coppola revived Megalopolis. James Caan, Oscar Isaac, Jude Law, and Zendaya were all in negotiations to star. Jon Hamm participated in a table read and told the Back to One podcast, "I was like, ‘I don’t know how he’s gonna make this movie.'" Though none of those actors would make Megalopolis'final cast list—due to various reasons and scheduling conflicts—Coppola somehow finished the film.
According to rumors on social media, a very rough cut of Megalopolis screened for a secret audience this past September at the Toronto International Film Festival. The lucky few individuals who attended the screening reported that they signed multiple embargo forms before even setting foot in the theater. "The movie is wild," Adam Driver told Collider. "It’s so imaginative and big and epic, and it’s bold. It takes a risk, and I couldn’t be more excited by it. I will not say more. I’ll stop there... But it’s amazing." Spike Lee also reportedly saw 30 minutes of the film during Coppola's August trip to Atlanta. His response? "OMG amazing."
For everyone else, all we have so far is a title card, which Coppola posted to Instagram this week. The photo is incredibly dark, but it appears to depict a fallen statue.
Megalopolis takes inspiration from the Roman conspiracy between senator Lucius Sergius Catilina and Marcus Tullius Cicero. Driver's character will reportedly be named Caesar, while Whitaker will play New York City Mayor Frank Cicero. Images of Driver taking a smoke break on set seemingly confirmed the Roman inspiration—as did set photos of Shia LaBeouf in full drag.
An exact release date has yet to be set for Megalopolis, but be sure to keep a lookout this summer—the film is rumored to debut at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.
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