Francis Ford Coppola denounces ‘unpardonable’ complaints about Megalopolis

Francis Ford Coppola has questioned the legitimacy of some of the negative criticism his latest epic, Megalopolis, has received.

The 85-year-old director’s self-funded dystopian drama had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday (16 May).

Coppola struggled to get funding for the film, which has cost $120m (£96m) and taken decades to make. After an industry screening in Los Angeles in late March, Megalopolis was already being dismissed as yet another of its legendary director’s folies de grandeur. And days before its premiere, The Guardian published a damning report, which included accusations against Coppola of inappropriate on-set behaviour.

Coppola did not respond to the report’s allegations; though, his executive co-producer Darren Demetre said he “was never aware of any complaints of harassment or ill behaviour during the course of the project”.

The day after the film’s premiere, it has continued to draw negative press, with one report from The Washington Post saying it “sparked frenzy and furious debate”. Meanwhile, reporters present at Cannes said the film drew a mixture of boos and applause once it ended.

Of the negative press his film has received, Coppola told Air Mail: “If you look at each and every mixed or negative notice it’s always something heard from an unknown source.

“I really feel it’s unpardonable to attack a movie because it doesn’t play by Hollywood’s current rules, by quoting unnamed sources who probably weren’t at the screening and may not exist.

“It’s a cold, meaningless business,” he said in regards to the film’s lack of distributor.

Francis Ford Coppola attends the ‘Megalopolis' Photocall at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival (Getty Images)
Francis Ford Coppola attends the ‘Megalopolis' Photocall at the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival (Getty Images)

Coppola argued: “You’d think, Why would anyone want not to root for Megalopolis? An accepted filmmaker using their own money to fund an ambitious movie. Well, there are plenty of interests who would.”

Addressing pejorative comments that have reduced the film to a “passion project”, he hit back, saying: “I’ve never made a film that wasn’t a passion project.

“Who wants to see a film that someone made without passion, or even a meal that the chef had not prepared passionately? As for the genre they want to force my film into, sci-fi: no, Megalopolis is a fable of future history.”

Megalopolis stars Adam Driver as Cesar Catilina, an architect-scientist who wants to better a fictional version of New York City called New Rome.

It also features Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Jon Voight, Laurence Fishburne, Dustin Hoffman, Giancarlo Esposito and Nathalie Emmanuel.

In his three-star review for The Independent, Geoffrey MacNab called the movie “a deeply flawed sci-fi spectacle”.

“Ultimately, this isn’t the car crash it could have been,” he wrote, adding: “You can’t help but marvel at his gumption (and folly) in making a blockbuster in which town planning features so prominently, and characters quote ancient philosophers like Plutarch and Marcus Aurelius at length.”