Movies

Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis Finally Has a US Release Date

How are they going to pull this off?

Megalopolis promotional image
American Zoetrope

Only a select few people have seen Megalopolis, Francis Ford Coppola’s impossibly audacious sci-fi epic, but already it’s the most polarizing movie of the year. Early test screenings built buzz over the film’s “baffling” tone and unique inaccessibility, while reviews out of its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival are firmly split 50/50 with some calling it an audacious cinematic achievement and others calling it hot garbage. (As one of the lucky few to see it at Cannes this year, I can confidently say that it’s both.)

After Megalopolis found buyers for distribution in Europe’s top five territories, the rest of the world waited with baited breath over whether they’d get to see this divisive movie for themselves. IMAX pledged to give the film a global release, but without a North American distributor, it was unclear whether the movie would ever get released in the United States — until now.

Lionsgate announced today that it would distribute Megalopolis in the U.S. and Canada, setting its North American release date for Sept. 27, 2024. It’s a fitting pairing. Lionsgate previously distributed many of Coppola’s greatest masterpieces, including Apocalypse Now Final Cut and The Conversation.

In the press release for the announcement, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group chair Adam Fogelson states:

Francis is a legend. For many of us, his gifts to cinema were one of the inspirations to devote our own careers to film. It is a true privilege to work with him, and to bring this incredible, audacious, and utterly unique movie to theatrical audiences. At Lionsgate, we strive to be a home for bold and daring artists, and Megalopolis proves there is no one more bold or daring than the maestro, Francis Ford Coppola.

Megalopolis’ Biggest Challenge

The logistics of showing Megalopolis in theaters present an even bigger challenge than selling this movie to a wide audience.

American Zoetrope

Bold and daring doesn’t begin to describe Megalopolis, which breaks cinematic tradition in ways no major release has done before. The film stars Adam Driver as Cesar Catilina, a genius architect with the ability to stop time. But that unexplained superpower barely even factors into the sprawling, epic tale of a modern-day Rome that reimagines America as a corrupt, decaying empire on the verge of collapse. The film’s plot is hard to decipher, as are its many perplexingly-named characters (hello, Wow Platinum!), but one moment in Megalopolis has generated the most buzz above all else: a fourth wall-breaking scene in which a live person steps in front of the screen and carries our a conversation with Driver’s character.

It’s a moment that presents a major challenge for any distributor. Will every theatrical chain have to employ an actor to enact this scene? Will audiences be able to accept the film breaking the fourth wall in this manner? Even at Cannes, the scene played out rather tenuously; at one press screening, an audience member tried to stop the actor from getting on stage, thinking they were a heckler. There’s no way to know whether this gimmick can work in a nationwide rollout, but it’s one that’s worth mulling as Megalopolis makes its way to theaters this fall.

Megalopolis opens in theaters in the U.S. and Canada on Sept. 27.

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