Francis Ford Coppola Says Studio Films Like ‘Dune’ and ‘No Time to Die’ Feel Interchangeable

The "Apocalypse Now" director lamented that even talented directors like Cary Fukunaga and Denis Villeneuve have their talents stifled by studios.
Francis Ford Coppola shows off his hands after placing them in cement during a handprint and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theater on Friday, April 29, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Francis Ford Coppola
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

When it comes to the state of the modern film industry, Francis Ford Coppola is never at a loss for words. After previously calling Marvel movies “despicable,” the legendary director has some choice words for “Dune” and “No Time to Die.” Speaking to GQ about the 50th anniversary of “The Godfather,” Coppola lamented the repetitive nature of today’s studio blockbusters and worried that great filmmakers are wasting their talents on them.

“There used to be studio films,” Coppola said. “Now there are Marvel pictures. And what is a Marvel picture? A Marvel picture is one prototype movie that is made over and over and over and over and over again to look different. Even the talented people — you could take ‘Dune,’ made by Denis Villeneuve, an extremely talented, gifted artist, and you could take ‘No Time to Die’ directed by… Cary Fukunaga — extremely gifted, talented, beautiful artists, and you could take both those movies, and you and I could go and pull the same sequence out of both of them and put them together. The same sequence where the cars all crash into each other. They all have that stuff in it, and they almost have to have it, if they’re going to justify their budget. And that’s the good films and the talented filmmakers.”

Coppola understandably has opinions about great directors toiling away on bland studio films, as he spent much of the ’80s working on studio fare to pay off personal debts that he acquired from some of his creative gambles. The disheartening process led him to step away from the film industry for decades to focus on his vineyards. “I always felt that I didn’t leave the movie business,” he told GQ. “The movie business left me.”

Coppola’s complaints about the state of big-budget studio films come as he’s prepping a big-budget film of his own, albeit without the backing of a studio. He is currently preparing to shoot “Megalopolis,” a lifelong passion project, set in a futuristic version of New York that is based on Ancient Rome, that explores the idea of utopia. He is preparing to spend $120 million of his own money on the film, which has a rumored cast that includes Oscar Isaac, Cate Blanchett, and Zendaya.

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