Despite production wrapping in 2023, Francis Ford Coppola's sci-fi epic Megalopolis still needed to find a distributing partner to bring the legendary director's next film to theaters. It has finally done so after over a year of searching, though it comes with a catch that is going to come out of Coppola's own wallet.

It was previously announced on June 17 that Lionsgate, which has worked with Coppola in the past for his films' home releases, would be stepping in to back and distribute Megalopolis for its major theatrical run set for later in 2024. However, marketing costs for Megalopolis will still have to be paid by Coppola, himself, and is likely to cost the director between $15 to $20 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

A Costly Investment

Megalopolis is expected to play on over 1,500 screens across the U.S., including some Imax theaters, which is believed to be the reason for the estimated marketing costs.

Adam Driver and Francis Ford Coppola with Megalopolis logo.

Lionsgate signing on as the backer ends a year-long struggle for the film to find a distributor willing to back and bring the sci-fi epic to theaters in the U.S. While Megalopolis was able to secure distribution overseas, there was concern within Hollywood about the film being a worthwhile investment and potential losses a distributor could suffer due to the film's budget and a potentially underwhelming release. The general consensus among some analysts was that Coppola would likely have to put up some to all of the marketing costs to find a partner.

More questions about the film's appeal were raised following its premiere at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in May 2024, where the first screening was reportedly met with a “muted” response from the audience during a private industry screening. Some of these concerns were lifted when Megalopolis received a seven to eight minute standing ovation at the Cannes premiere, though word of mouth coming out of it was still mixed, with some critics believing it will be a divisive movie after its wider release.

The silver-lining for Coppola, though, is paying the marketing costs will likely allow the director to retain total ownership of Megalopolis after its wider release.

Protect the Work

Coppola is famously protective of his work, to the point that he has ensured he retains ownership of the films he has directed over his roughly 60-year career. In turn, it has allowed him to release several restorations and re-edits for some of his most famous films such as Apocalypse Now, which has seen four different edits released over the years starting with the original 1979 release up to 2019's Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut.

Part of the reason for the various cuts was Apocalypse Now's infamous production which included a range of equipment problems due to shooting in the Philippines, Marlon Brando reportedly showing up overweight and unprepared for his role as Col. Kurtz, and Martin Sheen suffering a breakdown and near-fatal heart attack. What was originally planned as a six-week production schedule ultimately took 16 months to complete due to the compounding problems.

The Godfather Trilogy was the most recent of Coppola's work to also be fully restored for 4K alongside the release of a re-edited cut of The Godfather 3 in 2020. The re-edit was titled The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone and was considered by many critics and audiences as a significant improvement on the original 1990 release.

Megalopolis is scheduled to release in theaters on September 27, 2024.