Francis Ford Coppola Spent $120M Self-Financing Passion Project: What The Gambit Could Mean For The Film Industry

Benzinga ·  May 17 01:01

Director Francis Ford Coppola shot to international stardom in the 1970s following his critically acclaimed films "The Godfather," "The Godfather Part II" and "Apocalypse Now." His latest, the self-financed film "Megalopolis," is set to premiere on Thursday and has the potential to shake-up the film industry.

Production Challenges: Coppola has tried to make the film for more than 40 years but could not acquire financing. The director previously worked with Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA)(NASDAQ:PARAA) to finance "The Godfather."

In what could be his final film, Coppola sold a portion of his wine empire to self-finance the film's reported $120 million budget, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Premiere: The film will premiere on Thursday at Cannes Film Festival, considered one of the world's most prestigious film festivals, in a litmus test of its future commercial potential.

Coppola has won the festival's top award, the Palme D'Or, twice; for "The Conversation" in 1974 and "Apocalypse Now" in 1979. The latter had innumerable production challenges, eerily similar to "Megalopolis."

The film ensemble features Adam Driver, Shia LaBeouf, Nathalie Emmanuel, Giancarlo Esposito, Aubrey Plaza, Jon Voight, Talia Shire, Laurence Fishburne and Dustin Hoffman, among others.

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Distribution Challenges: The film has thus far been unable to find a domestic distributor, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A pre-screening for executives from Sony Group Corp (NYSE:SONY), Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) subsidiary NBCUniversal and others did not result in the film gaining a distribution partner.

Executives were reportedly concerned the film was too "experimental" for Coppola's envisioned $80 million to $100 million marketing spend. "There is just no way to position this movie," said one reporter.

Despite concerns, IMAX Corp (NYSE:IMAX) CEO Richard Gelfond confirmed at a Cannes event on Thursday that the film would get a release in IMAX. Variety reported that Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) could be still in the running for acquiring distribution rights.

Industry Outlook: In recent years, film distributors have increasingly preferred movie franchises rather than experimental films for theater releases.

Although artistic efforts have struggled in theaters, they have found a home on streaming platforms. Apple spent over $300 in financing the Martin Scorsese production "Killers of the Flower Moon."

If "Megalopolis" succeeds, it could spell a surprising shift in industry strategy.

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Photo: Via IMDb

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