When Francis Ford Coppola teases a long-running passion project, the world sits up and takes note. The 82-year old auteur, whose back catalogue includes some of the finest movies ever made, is finally setting the wheels in motion on Megalopolis, a film nearly two decades in the making.
Having laid down initial plans for the project as early as 2000, when Robert De Niro and Nicolas Cage were earmarked for leading roles, the project was hit with a litany of delays (including the 9/11 attacks) that have tested Coppola’s resolve to direct his first Hollywood film following a near 25-year hiatus. Now Coppola has revealed that he is ready to begin filming in fall of 2022, with a cast that includes Oscar Isaac, Zendaya and Cate Blanchett and a largely self-financed budget. For a man who has regularly put his own neck on the line for the integrity of his creative vision (Apocolypse Now was an endless battle with big studios that almost cost Coppola his livelihood), for him to still feel the hunger to do it all again says everything about the man.
In a recent interview with Deadline, the director revealed a glimpse of what we can expect. “The concept of the film is a Roman epic, in the traditional Cecile B. DeMille or Ben-Hur way, but told as a modern counterpart focusing on America. It’s based on The Catiline Conspiracy, which comes to us from ancient Rome. This was a famous duel between a patrician, Catiline, and that part will be played by Oscar Isaac, and the famous Cicero, who will be Forest Whitaker. He is now the beleaguered mayor of New York, during a financial crisis, close to the one that Mayor Dinkins had. This story takes place in a new Rome, a Roman epic sent in modern times. The time set is not a specific year in modern New York, it’s an impression of modern New York, which I call New Rome.”
Having spent so long on the back-burner, during which time the movie industry has transformed almost beyond recognition, we’re excited to see whether Coppola can pull one final rabbit out the bag.