Megalopolis: Coppola’s New Epic Film in Trouble?

Megalopolis’ in Peril Amid Ballooning Budget, Crew Exodus (Exclusive)

The filmmaker is halfway through filming in Atlanta his troubled production.

 

Coppola’s latest movie, the sci-fi-epic, Megalopolis, has descended into chaos, according to multiple sources. The movie, currently half-way through shooting in Atlanta, has in the last week lost key creative talent including production designer and supervising art director.

The self-financed production is giving severe Apocalypse Now redux vibes, one in which the iconoclast director is breaking a cardinal Hollywood rule: “Never spend your own money.”

The film’s budget has expanded and is now about halfway through its 90-day shoot, but it’s unclear whether the production can go forward as planned.

Coppola assembled a great cast, including Adam Driver, Nathalie Emmanuel, Forest Whitaker, Laurence Fishburne, Jon Voight, Talia Shire, Shia LaBeouf, Jason Schwartzman and Dustin Hoffman.

The tale centers on an architect who seeks to rebuild New York City as a utopia after a disaster.

Coppola initially employed new virtual production technology similar to that used on The Mandalorian. But as the challenges and costs of that approach mounted, those sources say the production is attempting to pivot to a less costly, more traditional green-screen approach.

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.”

Coppola, who has never made an effects-heavy movie, fired his entire visual effects team in December, with the rest of that department soon following.

Mark Russell, a veteran whose credits include The Wolf of Wall Street, was leading the team as visual effects production supervisor.

“The Art Directors Guild supports all Art Departments to ensure proper staffing and scheduling and is currently looking into the situation with Megalopolis to determine the next steps,” spokesperson for the Art Directors Guild, which reps both art directors and production designers, said. “We have no further comment.”

In March 2022, Coppola said that he was putting his own money into the film, which has no distributor, to make it his way. Said Coppola: “There’s a certain way everyone thinks a film should be, and it rubs against the grain if you have another idea. People can be very unaccepting, but sometimes the other idea represents what’s coming in the future. That is worthy of being considered.”

Coppola’s methods have yielded some of what critics consider some of the greatest films of all time, including The Godfather (1972) and its 1974 sequel, both of which won best picture at the Oscars. Yet he hasn’t had a hit since Dracula and last helmed the 2011 murder mystery feature Twixt, which starred Val Kilmer and Bruce Dern and was largely a home entertainment play.

But there was no more famously calamitous Coppola production than the making of Apocalypse Now, a grueling shoot that mirrored its story of a descent into madness and chaos. The 1979 movie went on to win two Oscars and became a classic.