Francis Ford Coppola Slams Studio System After He Self-Financed ‘Megalopolis’: Execs ‘Don’t Make Good Movies … They Pay Their Debt Obligations’

Francis Ford Coppola
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Francis Ford Coppola shared his thoughts on the current studio system during the Cannes Film Festival press conference for his self-financed epic “Megalopolis,” saying that they might not be around much longer.

“I fear that the film industry has become more of a matter of people being hired to meet their debt obligations because the studios are in great, great debt. And the job is not so much to make good movies, the job is to make sure they pay their debt obligations,” Coppola said in response to a question from Variety. “Obviously, new companies like Amazon and Apple and Microsoft, they have plenty of money, so it might be that the studios we knew for so long, some wonderful ones, are not to be here in the future anymore.”

The presser also veered into the political, with Coppola being asked if the film is a commentary on Donald Trump, prompting him to share his thoughts on the current state of U.S. politics.

“Men like Donald Trump are not at the moment in charge, but there is a trend happening in the world toward the more neo-right, even fascist tradition, which is frightening because anyone who was alive during World War II saw the horrors that took place and we don’t want a repeat of that,” Coppola said. “So again, I think it’s the role of the artist, the films, to shine light on what’s happening in the world.”

“Jon, you have different political opinions,” Coppola then said in a moment that drew laughs from journalists. Voight responded, “How did you find that out?”

Coppola continued, “If I may say, one of the things about our wonderful cast is that they reflect all sorts of political ideas. This is not one notion.”

The sci-fi epic divided the Cannes audience at its premiere on Thursday night, earning a seven-minute standing ovation but also sparking plenty of discourse about its slew of shocking scenes, including a deepfake sex tape featuring Adam Driver, Shia LaBeouf playing a Trumpian figure who sometimes dresses in drag and Aubrey Plaza’s evil dominatrix.

LaBeouf, whose performance played the biggest in the theater during the film’s premiere, was conspicuously absent from Friday’s press conference. Beyond Coppola, cast and crew in attendance included Driver, Plaza, Nathalie Emmanuel, Giancarlo Esposito, Laurence Fishburne, Voight, Coppola’s granddaughter Romy Mars, Talia Shire, producer Roman Coppola and cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr.

Reviews of “Megalopolis” were mixed, with Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge writing that the film “is positively awe-inspiring in some places and an absolute eyesore in others, until you pull back and try to take it all in.”

Coppola has been trying to make “Megalopolis” for decades, eventually using $120 million of his own money from his wine empire to produce the film. Controversy surrounded the film in the lead-up to its premiere, as its expense and reportedly muted responses to early screenings have made it difficult to secure distribution.

A Guardian report also alleged chaos on set, including Coppola’s behavior toward women, which allegedly including trying to kiss extras to “get them in the mood” for a nightclub scene. Coppola did not respond to the claims, but executive co-producer Darren Demetre defended the director in a statement to the Guardian, saying that Coppola did kiss some extras on the cheek in a friendly manner but no one ever expressed to him that Coppola’s behavior made them uncomfortable.

“Megalopolis” marks the 85-year-old director’s first film in over a decade, since 2011’s “Twixt.” It follows architect Cesar Catilina (Driver), who after an accident destroys a New York City-esque metropolis, works to rebuild it as a sustainable utopia. Corrupt mayor Franklyn Cicero (Esposito) challenges Cesar and wants to stick to the status quo, but his daughter Julia (Nathalie Emmanuel) comes between the two men.

From Variety US