How Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Megalopolis’ Landed a Distributor 5

When Lionsgate revealed June 17 it would bring Francis Ford Coppola’s $120 million passion project Megalopolis to U.S. theaters, plenty of questions swirled — and not just about whether an actor playing a reporter would show up at screenings to ask questions of Adam Driver’s onscreen character midway through the movie, as happened at Cannes. (The answer to that question, according to sources, is yes, when at all possible.)

More pressingly, folks in Hollywood wondered if the deal called for Lionsgate to put its own skin in the game by paying for any of Megalopolis’ marketing. After all, other suitors balked at that prospect after a late March screening for studio heads.

Lionsgate, it appears, will not be paying for marketing. Instead, Coppola is expected to provide the spend himself. Lionsgate intends to put the feature on more than 1,500 screens, which sources in the distribution world say would require around $15 million to $20 million in marketing. It’s unclear how much Megalopolis’ campaign will entail.

The film will also play on some Imax screens, potentially a boon for the project, which is banking on Coppola’s status as one of the great living filmmakers to draw in aficionados.

Coppola famously retains ownership of his movies, which is why he has been able to deliver various cuts of his classics like Apocalypse Now, and he always intended to exercise complete control over Megalopolis. Lionsgate has a long relationship with Coppola on home releases, and sees the upside of adding one more to the roster.

And in the end, for Coppola it may be about more than just money. Throughout his press tour, he maintained his hope that the message of the movie — about an obsessive man pouring himself into a project to build a better world — would live on after him.

Pamela McClintock contributed to this story.

This story appeared in the June 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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