Francis Ford Coppola's Megalopolis 'mired in production problems'

The NEW Apocalypse Now? Francis Ford Coppola’s $120M passion project Megalopolis descends into chaos amid ‘absolute madness’ on Atlanta set and wave of walkouts… in eerie echoes of his 1979 Marlon Brando masterpiece

  • Francis Ford Coppola’s long-gestating – and self-financed – sci-fi epic Megalopolis is in peril, insiders close to the movie have claimed
  • The splashy film features names such as Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jon Voight, Laurence Fishburne, Aubrey Plaza, and Shia LaBeouf
  • Having funded the $120million passion project himself, the director is now in danger of missing the March deadline, sources told the Hollywood Reporter

Francis Ford Coppola’s long-gestating – and self-financed – sci-fi epic Megalopolis is in peril, insiders close to the movie have claimed, reporting mass crew walkouts and a rapidly ballooning budget halfway through production.

The splashy film features big names such as Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jon Voight, Laurence Fishburne, Aubrey Plaza, and Shia LaBeouf, and centers on an architect who seeks to rebuild New York City after a disaster.

Having funded the $120million passion project himself, the legendary director is now in danger of missing a strict March deadline, sources said, and is making a slew of changes to cut costs and save the production.

The hectic, last ditch effort comes halfway through the film’s 80- to 90-day shoot, and as the set – situated in urban Atlanta has fallen into ‘chaos.’

Coppola, however, is no stranger to this kind of disorder – famously encountering problems during filming for his masterpiece Apocalypse Now, during which the now 83-year-old director worried the film would be a ‘failure’ due to the issues. 

Having funded the $120million passion project himself, the legendary, 83-year-old director – seen here on set in Atlanta in November – is now in danger of missing his March deadline, sources said, and is making a slew of changes to cut costs and save the production

Coppola is no stranger to a chaotic set, famously encountering problems while filming his seminal masterpiece Apocalypse Now. The director is seen here during the seminal war flick’s filming in the Philippines more than 50 years ago in 1976

But that was more than 50 years ago, and times have changed since Coppola’s seminal masterpiece.  

Speaking anonymously to The Hollywood Reporter, sources described how the director – who has never made a effects-heavy film – had sought to first use costly virtual technology seen in productions like the Mandalorian, before costs spiraled wildly out of control.

To rescue Coppola’s bottom line, crews reportedly have reverted to more-traditional green screens, leaving what has been touted by the filmmaker as a philosophical ‘love story’ to likely be less visually impressive than he had planned.

Sources also revealed that the five-time Academy Award winner, whose impressive oeuvre also includes the Godfather Trilogy and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, fired almost his entire visual effects team days into shooting just last month.

Shortly thereafter, the remainder of the team resigned, insiders revealed, confiding to the magazine that ever since, ‘being on the set is madness.’

‘State-of-the-art technology’: Coppola – who’s wanted to make Megalopolis since 1982 – sold a piece of his wine empire in order to self-finance the movie, which will be the first to shoot at Prysm Stages’ LED volume stage

The film stars Nathalie Emmanuel, Chloe Fineman, Madeleine Gardella and Isabelle Kusman, all seen here on set in Atlanta – built to look like the Big Apple – back in November

It also features Shia LaBeouf – who’s making a comeback despite seven prior arrests – seen here in a gaudy get-up off with a studded leather jacket in November

Logline: The plot of Megalopolis is described as ‘an architect wanting to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a devastating disaster,’ but Coppola calls his dream project ‘a love story’

The insiders described how Coppola – who fired his visual effects supervisor while filming 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula – is now frantically trying to fill the vacant positions, while also cutting costs to ensure the job gets done, even if it mean sacrificing some of the final product’s quality in the process.

‘There’s no good answer here,’ one production executive said of the director’s rush to finish the film, which was financed by himself personally, generating the sum through the sale of several of his popular Northern California wineries.

But sources told The Reporter that due to these issues, the movie’s original $120 million budget has since expanded, thrusting the cast and crew into chaos amid uncertainty over the film’s future. 

‘[Coppola] is going to spend a lot more money than he intended. You can imagine how much he’s already got invested. It would be a very bitter pill not to finish it.’ 

The plot of Megalopolis is described as ‘an architect wanting to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a devastating disaster,’ but the the 82-year-old filmmaker calls his dream project ‘a love story.’

Coppola, however, is no stranger to this kind of disorder – famously encountering problems during filming for his masterpiece Apocalypse Now. The shoot was plagued with problems, including severe weather, grave robbers bringing human corpses to set, and leading man Martin Sheen (pictured at left next to Coppola) suffering a near-fatal heart attack

The unrest in the final stages of the film’s production hearks back to how Coppola famously sent his cast into the heart of the Philippine jungle – over the course of three arduous years – on the set of the seminal war film, which stars Marlon Brando (not pictured) and is based on Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novel Heart of Darkness

‘A woman is divided between loyalties to two men. But not only two men. Each man comes with a philosophical principle,’ Francis explained to GQ in February.

An official synopsis for the unreleased production ambiguously states that ‘The fate of Rome haunts a modern world unable to solve its own social problems in this epic story of political ambition, genius and dangerous love’.

Coppola late last year elaborated: ‘One is her father who raised her, who taught her Latin on his lap and is devoted to a much more classical view of society, the Marcus Aurelius kind of view. 

‘The other one, who is the lover, is the enemy of the father but is dedicated to a much more progressive “Let’s leap into the future, let’s leap over all of this garbage that has contaminated humanity for 10K years. 

‘”Let’s find what we really are, which are an enlightened, friendly, joyous species.”‘

Coppola – who’s said he has wanted to make Megalopolis since 1982 – sold a piece of his multimillion-dollar wine empire in order to self-finance the movie, which will be the first to shoot at Prysm Stages’ LED volume stage. The sale, which was for multiple properties across Northern California, was valued in the tens of millions.

When asked if he felt any apprehension over funding the project personally, a steadfast Coppola told Deadline in response: ‘What’s the worst that can happen to me? I’m going to die and be broke? I’m not going to be broke.’ 



Star studded: The legendary Godfather director also cast (from L-R) his younger sister Talia Shire, nephew Jason Schwartzman, and Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman despite resurfaced sexual assault allegations

 The unrest in the final stages of the film’s production hearks back to how Coppola famously sent his cast into the heart of the Philippine jungle on the set of 1979’s Apocalypse Now. 

The shoot was plagued with problems, including severe weather, grave robbers bringing human corpses to set, and leading man Martin Sheen suffering a near-fatal heart attack.

 the documentary Hearts of Darkness, made by Coppola’s wife, Elanor, highlighted the chaotic production, which took place over the course of three years and yielded a masterpiece.

It remains to be seen whether Coppola will again manage to catch lighting in a bottle with his latest production, with his most recent picturing coming more than a decade ago with 2011’s  relative letdown Twixt.

For the new film, the legendary Godfather director also cast his younger sister Talia Shire, nephew Jason Schwartzman, and fellow Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman (despite resurfaced sexual assault allegations).

The star-studded ensemble also includes Fishburne, Voight, Whitaker, Plaza, Driver, Grace VanderWaal, James Remar, and D.B. Sweeney.

Coppoloa, the recipient of Five Academy Award including two for Apocalypse Now is considered one of greatest directors in American cinema as is one of the leading figures of the New Hollywood filmmaking movement of the 1960s and 1970s. 

In addition to his five Oscars, the director’s work as also garnered him six Golden Globe Awards, two Palmes d’Or, and a British Academy Film Award. He has yet to comment on the claims in the Hollywood Reporter report, which were published Monday. 

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