Say what you will about Francis Ford Coppola, but the man has no problem betting on himself. Since founding his American Zoetrope production company in 1969, he has blazed trails for filmmakers trying to make studio-sized projects outside of the Hollywood system, both in terms of his willingness to spend his own money on his films and his work empowering other independent filmmakers. He then decided to enter the wine business and built an empire of vineyards that made him much more money than his films ever did. Now, at the age of 82 and with nothing left to prove, the director and spirit mogul is prepared to take his biggest risk yet. Coppola has spent nearly half his life trying to find funding for his dream film, “Megalopolis,” and now says he is prepared to spend $120 million of his own money to finance the movie himself.
‘Megalopolis’ has been described as an epic film that explores ideas about the possibility of building a utopian society. The film is supposedly set in a futuristic version of New York that is loosely based on Ancient Rome. Cate Blanchett, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, and Forest Whitaker have all been linked to the film, although no cast is officially confirmed.
Coppola is no stranger to having his ambitious projects rejected by studio backers. In a new interview with GQ, he recalls that after making “The Godfather,” he was arguably at his commercial peak, and yet he still could not find Hollywood funding for “Apocalypse Now.”
“I had won five Oscars and was the hottest film director in town and walked in with ‘Apocalypse Now’ and said, ‘I’d like to make this next,’” he said. “I own ‘Apocalypse Now.’ Do you know why I own ‘Apocalypse Now’? Because no one else wanted it.” His bet on “Apocalypse Now” clearly paid off, even if a similar experience self-funding “One From the Heart” left him in a $26 million hole that he spent over a decade working himself out of. But after making a fortune on his vineyards, the octogenarian director is not worried about making this investment back.
“I couldn’t care less about the financial impact whatsoever,” he said. “It means nothing to me.”