Megalopolis: What We Know About Francis Ford Coppola's Star-Studded Epic

Al Pacino in The Godfather
(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

One of the premier members of a group of filmmakers known as “New Hollywood,” Francis Ford Coppola has long been one of the most respected and ambitious names in around, turning out classic ‘70s movies like The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and Apocalypse Now, among others. But the five-time Academy Award winner hasn’t released a new movie in more than a decade (the longest stretch of his career), leading some to wonder what he’s been up to since Twixt came out in 2011, besides speaking out against superhero movies.

Over the course of the past few years, the legendary filmmaker has been piecing together what could very well be his most ambitious, most star-studded, and most complicated picture yet – a sci-fi epic titled Megalopolis. If this is the first you’re hearing about the long-in-the-works passion project, don’t worry, because we’re about to break down everything we know about the Francis Ford Coppola movie so far.

What Is The Megalopolis Release Date?

Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now

(Image credit: United Artists)

Francis Ford Coppola has yet to reveal a release date for Megalopolis at this point in time. In fact, no studios have been listed as distributors for the long-in-the-works feature film.

The Megalopolis Cast Includes Adam Driver, Nathalie Emmanuel, Laurence Fishburne, And More

Adam Driver in Marriage Story; Nathalie Emmanuel in F9; Laurence Fishburne in John Wick Chapter 3

(Image credit: Netflix; Universal Pictures; Lionsgate)

Though neither a release date nor a distributor have been announced for Megalopolis, Francis Ford Coppola has assembled what could very well be one of the most-stacked casts in modern Hollywood history, if not ever. In May 2022, Deadline reported that Adam Driver, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Laurence Fishburne had been added to the movie’s cast, which would be the first time the director has worked with the John Wick: Chapter 4 actor since a 14-year-old Fishburne starred in Apocalypse Now. At the time, it was also revealed that Forest Whitaker and Jon Voight had been cast as well.

However, the casting news didn’t stop there, as Variety reported in August 2022 that Shia LaBeouf (who was later seen in Greek goddess drag), Talia Shire, Jason Schwartzman, Grace VanderWaal, Kathryn Hunter, and James Remar were all set to appear in Coppola’s longtime passion project.

And then, in January 2023, Deadline announced that the cast had grown even more, with The Mandalorian Season 3’s Giancarlo Esposito, Aubrey Plaza, Chloe Fineman, DB Sweeney, Bailey Ives, and Dustin Hoffman all being attached to star in some capacity. 

Megalopolis Tells The Story Of A Modern Society On The Brink Of Crumbling Like Ancient Rome

Paulie getting shot with the Statue of LIberty in background in The Godfather

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Not a whole lot of details about this decades-spanning epic sci-fi drama have been revealed at this time, but according to Deadline, the ambitious project will tell the story of a modern society on the brink of crumbling like the Ancient Roman Empire long, long ago. In a sprawling interview with Deadline earlier in 2022, Coppola, while not sharing too much in terms of specifics, said it was “exciting to have an opportunity to delve into themes that are really important,” later bringing up humanity, utopia, and the climate crisis. How those themes get wrapped up into Megalopolis is anyone’s guess, for now.

The Movie Has Been A Passion Project For Francis Ford Coppola Since The 1980s

Gene Hackman in The Conversation

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Making incredibly ambitious movies that require years of hard work, dedication, and a level of stress that would break most has been a major aspect of the director’s career, especially when it comes to his two most well-known films, The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. It’s not that big of a stretch to say that Megalopolis falls into that same category, as Coppola has been working on the passion project since the 1980s, according to The Hollywood Reporter. When speaking about the movie with Deadline in April 2019, Coppola had this to say about it:

So yes, I plan this year to begin my longstanding ambition to make a major work utilizing all I have learned during my long career, beginning at age 16 doing theater, and that will be an epic on a grand scale, which I’ve titled Megalopolis. It is unusual; it will be a production on a grand scale with a large cast. It makes use of all of my years of trying films in different styles and types culminating in what I think is my own voice and aspiration.

Coppola, at the time, admitted that the ambitious project was not “within the mainstream of what is produced” but he was nevertheless encouraged to get the ball rolling. 

Francis Ford Coppola Put Up $120 Million Of His Own Money To Finally Get Megalopolis Off The Ground

Danny DeVito and Matt Damon in The Rainmaker

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

When Megalopolis finally does see the light of day, it will almost completely be due to the hard work, dedication, and tons of cash the creator has put into the project. When sitting down with GQ in February 2022, Coppola talked at length about the movie as well as everything he has put into it in order to get it off the ground, including self-funding the production by selling a large piece of his wine company as collateral for a line of credit to fund the project, saying: 

If I'm going to invest $120 million of my own money—which I've already done basically, I have it there, waiting to be written to make it—I want it to have a good result for humanity.

The total budget of Megalopolis hasn’t been revealed, but according to Coppola, it is going to take a few years before it is ready for release, which could very well make this the final large-scale project of his career.

Principal Photography Is Slated To Wrap In Spring 2023, Despite Issues On Set

Al Pacino in The Godfather

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Coppola is no stranger to hectic productions, with the turmoil on the set of Apocalypse Now being so rampant it was turned into a documentary titled Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, and issues on the set of The Godfather later turning into fodder for the Paramount+ original series, The Offer. So, it wasn’t all that surprising when The Hollywood Reporter wrote about a tumultuous Megalopolis set weeks after cameras started rolling in Atlanta. According to the report, there was a mass crew exodus, which reportedly included the production designer, supervising art director, and the entire visual effects team.

The following day, the director addressed the situation in an interview with Deadline, where he dismissed reports of “chaos” by saying “no one signed up for this movie expecting the process to be conventional.” Coppola also provided a vague timeline for the project, saying: 

We’ll finish the film in spring of 2023, and we’re totally on schedule, which is hard to do on a big picture. I don’t know how many films can say that eight weeks in, but we are and that’s a fact.

Later in the interview, Coppola said he wasn’t aiming for the fall festival circuit and that he was trying to come up with a way to open the movie everywhere in the world on the same day.

Expect to hear more about Megalopolis in the coming weeks and months. Until then, check out the 2023 movie schedule to get caught up to speed on all the films with release dates.

Philip Sledge
Content Producer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.