Nolte: Hollywood Establishment Still Rooting Against Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola attends the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony for Director Francis
Kevin Winter/Getty

One of our greatest living directors, Francis Ford Coppola, spent $120 million of his own money to produce a film he’s dreamed of for five decades, and the knives are already out to kill his chances of landing a distribution deal.

Coppola is an artist who refuses to be controlled, so he must fail.

Megalopolis is an epic science-fiction drama that is all Coppola. The man who brought us The Godfather (1972), Godfather II (1974), The Conversation (1974), Apocalypse Now (1979), The Outsiders (1983), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986), and Tucker: the Man and His Dream (1988), has written, financed, produced, and directed the biggest gamble of his life.

Better still, he bucked fascist Hollywood’s Cancel Bin to cast Shia LaBeouf, Jon Voight, and Dustin Hoffman.

Isn’t this what art is supposed to be all about — a dreamer dreaming big, taking risks, exiting his comfort zone,  pushing it all into the middle of the table, and going against the grain (cape shit) to bring his vision to life?

Not in Hollywood.

Using the left-wing trades like the Hollywood Reporter, the McCarthyite crusade to strangle Megalopolis in the crib began early and hasn’t yet let up.

Two headlines from January 2023, when the movie was still in production…

Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Megalopolis’ in Peril Amid Ballooning Budget, Crew Exodus

Francis Ford Coppola’s latest movie, the sci-fi-tinged Megalopolis, has descended into chaos, according to multiple sources. The movie, currently halfway through shooting in Atlanta, has in the last week lost key creative talent including its production designer and supervising art director. That’s on top of losing the entire visual effects team in the first part of December.

To many insiders, the production is giving severe Apocalypse Now vibes, and it’s one on which the iconoclastic 83-year-old director is breaking a cardinal Hollywood rule: Never spend your own money.

Yeah, never spend your own money because the fascist studios unable to control your vision will engage its sycophants in the trades to send out a warning about the price you pay for exiting the plantation.

Even outlets that claim to be on the side of independent movies were good dogs:

We’ve reached the crew quitting, budgets exploding part of Megalopolis’ production

None of these woes are too surprising, though. Coppola fired his visual effects supervisor on Bram Stoker’s DraculaThe Hollywood Reporter notes. Yet, the effects in Dracula are among the film’s most striking and impressive elements. Coppola also famously sent his cast into the heart of darkness on the set of Apocalypse Now. The shoot, which took place in the Philippines, had a litany of problems, including severe weather, grave robbers bringing real corpses to set, and Martin Sheen suffering a near-fatal heart attack. Coppola’s wife, Elanor [sic], captured the whole thing in the documentary Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, which says everything one needs to know about the three-year struggle to get that on the screen.

Coppola and his star, Adam Driver, pushed back hard against these reports. And then, a mere year later, Megalopolis was completed, seemingly on time and on budget. So now the crusade is all about ensuring Coppola cannot land a decent distribution deal…

Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Megalopolis’ Faces Uphill Battle for Mega Deal: “Just No Way to Position This Movie”

The self-funded epic is deemed too “experimental” and “not good” enough for the $100 million marketing spend envisioned by the legendary director.

“Everyone is rooting for Francis and feels nostalgic,” adds another attendee. “But then there is the business side of things.”

A third attendee noted “a conspicuous silence at the end of it,” but stopped short of writing off the film as a failed exercise. “Does it wobble, wander, go all over the place? Yes. But it’s really imaginative and does say something about our time. I think it’s going to be a small, specialized label [that picks it up].”

Didn’t a quirky, adult-oriented movie called Oppenheimer recently come out of nowhere to make nearly a billion dollars and pick up a bunch of Oscars?

We saw this with Mel Gibson and The Passion of the Christ (2004), with Kevin Costner and Dances with Wolves (1990)… John Cassavetes was never allowed out of the ghetto, John Sayles and John Waters can no longer get their movies funded…

And it’s not so much that these geniuses work outside the system. It is not their status as “independents” that dooms them to hate campaigns, claiming they have already failed. No, their sin is refusing to conform politically. Had Coppola told a story about white cops brutalizing “black bodies” or how castrating a little boy into a little girl is something liberating and beautiful, we’d have seen none of these headlines. But Coppola doesn’t operate that way. He’s his own man. Can’t have that.

Coppola went through this exact same smear campaign in 1979 with Apocalypse Now. That time, he came out on top with one of the greatest movies ever made. The attacks on Megalopolis feel like the media is looking for a do-over, an opportunity to wipe the Apocalypse egg off their smug faces.

One of my all-time favorite movies (see: #63) is Coppola’s Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988). I also think it might be his most personal movie — the story of an outsider and visionary destroyed by a fascist government doing the bidding of fascist big business

Maybe Megalopolis stinks. Who knows? But how many $300 million Disney movies stink (answer: all of them) without garnering headlines determined to tar them as failures before We the People have our say?

If you’re not rooting for Megalopolis, you can no longer call yourself a movie lover. Instead, you are broken, compromised, and corrupt.

John Nolte’s debut novel Borrowed Time (Bombardier Books) is available today. You can read an exclusive excerpt here and a review of the novel here.  


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