Francis Ford Coppola’s Divisive ‘Megalopolis’ Finally Lands U.S. Distributor After Months-Long Struggle

Topline

“Megalopolis,” the divisive latest film from director Francis Ford Coppola, finally landed a U.S. distributor, with Lionsgate Studios set to release the film in theaters in September, multiple news outlets reported Monday, following a months-long search and a polarizing Cannes Film Festival premiere.

francis ford coppola’s divisive ‘megalopolis’ finally lands u.s. distributor after months-long struggle

Francis Ford Coppola's "Megalopolis" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. (Photo by Laurent KOFFEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images) Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Key Facts

Lionsgate Studios will release “Megalopolis,” directed by the 85-year-old Coppola and starring Adam Driver, in U.S. theaters on Sept. 27, months after the polarizing film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, Lionsgate told Variety and IndieWire.

“Megalopolis” will also have an IMAX release after its CEO Rich Gelfond said during Cannes that the film would have an IMAX release no matter the distributor.

Lionsgate Motion Picture Group chair Adam Fogelson told Variety it is a “privilege” to “bring this incredible, audacious, and utterly unique movie to theatrical audiences,” praising Coppola as a “legend.”

“Megalopolis” struggled to find a U.S. distributor following its Cannes premiere, though the film had already secured distributors for overseas markets including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Key Background

“Megalopolis,” a nearly 50-year passion project for Coppola, took decades to materialize, with Coppola telling Vanity Fair he “must have rewritten it 300 times” and sold part of his California winery to self-finance the $120 million project. Coppola’s lawyer and “Megalopolis” producer Barry Hirsch told IndieWire in April the film would not premiere at a festival until it had secured a U.S. distributor, but the film premiered at Cannes in May with no distributor secured after efforts to find one reportedly went poorly. The Hollywood Reporter reported that a screening held for potential distributors in March did not succeed, with one studio head calling it “so not good” and another saying there’s “no way to position this movie.” Another film executive called it “batsh*t crazy” after watching a screening, The Guardian reported. “Megalopolis” has a 52% score on Rotten Tomatoes based on 65 critics reviews. The film follows Driver as an idealist architect in a fictional city following a disaster who clashes with the city’s corrupt leader, played by Giancarlo Esposito, according to its plot summary on the Cannes website. Coppola has described the film as a “Roman epic set in modern America.”

Tangent

The “Megalopolis” premiere was also marred by several other controversies, including allegations published by the Guardian, citing anonymous sources, that Coppola had acted inappropriately on set. The report alleged Coppola was “old school” in his treatment of women on set and in one instance tried to kiss topless female extras to “get them in the mood.” Executive producer Darren Demetre told the Guardian he was “never aware of any complaints of harassment or ill behaviour” on set, and Coppola told the New York Times he is “not touchy-feely.” Reports during filming also suggested a tumultuous production process. The Hollywood Reporter reported Coppola had fired nearly all the visual effects team in December 2022, with one source calling the set “absolute madness.” The Guardian also reported, citing anonymous crew members, that Coppola would show up to set without plans and waste time smoking marijuana in his trailer.

What To Watch For

Whether “Megalopolis” can succeed at the box office—particularly in such a dismal year for movie theaters. After a March screening, an anonymous studio head told The Hollywood Reporter that any studio that distributes and markets the film is “going to lose money.”

Further Reading

Coppola’s ‘Megalopolis’ Explained: All The Hype And Controversies As Movie Nears Cannes Debut (Forbes)

Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Megalopolis’ to Be Released This September by Lionsgate (IndieWire)

‘Has this guy ever made a movie before?’ Francis Ford Coppola’s 40-year battle to film Megalopolis (The Guardian)

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