Francis Ford Coppola's challenges in distribution

Donna Langley, chief content officer at NBCUniversal, was in attendance. So was Sony CEO Tom Rothman. Bob Iger was one of the few figures in Hollywood who couldn't make it, but at least he had a good excuse, still in the midst of a fierce proxy battle with investor Nelson Peltz.

Event: The big reveal Major citiesthe self-financed epic of the legendary The Godfather Trilogy director Francis Ford Coppola, to the giants of the film industry. The March 28 screening — held at 10 a.m. at the Universal CityWalk Imax Theater — was also attended by luminaries of Coppola's poetry such as his nephew Nicolas Cage, The Godfather The series stars Al Pacino and Spike Jonze, Coppola's former brother-in-law. Two of the film's stars — Shia LaBeouf and Coppola's sister, Talia Shire — were also in attendance.

The project, which Coppola first began writing in 1983, cost $120 million — financed in part by the sale of a significant portion of his wine empire (a 2021 deal It is said to be worth more than $500 million). Closing in at two hours and 15 minutes, the film follows the rebuilding of a large city after its accidental destruction, with two competing visions – one from an idealistic architect (Adam Driver), the other from a pragmatic city mayor (Giancarlo Esposito) – colliding in the film. the operation. References to ancient Rome abound, including Caesar hairstyles for men.

Coppola, 84, said no decisions will be made about the festival arc until a distribution plan is in place. But while there was no shortage of curious suitors out there — in addition to Rothman and Sarandos, Warner Bros. Pam Abdi, Disney's live-action chief David Greenbaum, Netflix's Ted Sarandos, and Paramount's Mark Weinstein have all been spotted — multiple sources tell us inside the show Hollywood Reporter Which Major cities You will face an intense uphill battle to find a distribution partner. “There's no way to put this movie out there,” says one distributor.

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“Everyone is rooting for Francis and feeling nostalgic for the past,” adds one of the attendees. “But then there's the business side of things.”

A third attendee noted “a distinct silence at the end,” but stopped short of writing off the film as a failed exercise. “Does it bob, wander, and go everywhere? Yes. But it’s really imaginative and says something about our times. I think it will be a small, niche label.” [that picks it up]”.

But a brand like A24 or Neon likely wouldn't have the budget for the major marketing push Coppola envisioned. says one source THR Coppola assumed that he would close a deal very quickly, and that the studio would gladly spend a huge sum in print and advertising, including all marketing, in the range of $40 million domestically, and $80 million to $100 million globally.

This is the kind of high-risk offering that would happen Major cities A better fit for a studio-backed niche label like Disney-owned Searchlight or Universal-owned Focus. But sources say Universal and Focus have already dropped out of the bidding THR.

“I find it hard to believe that any distributor would pay cash and still be in first place to recover a profit and loss plus their distribution fee,” says one distribution expert. “if [Coppola] Willing to put forward profit and loss or support spending, I think there will be a lot of interested parties.

Since Coppola was always keen for this to be an IMAX release, there was a small screening at the company's Playa Vista headquarters in Los Angeles before the Jupiter event (marking the first time the director had seen the entire film on an IMAX screen). while Major cities Not a “Filmed for Imax” film — meaning it's not guaranteed a full Imax release — Coppola used camera technology that would allow him to shoot certain sequences that would fill an entire Imax screen, and worked with the company's master quality experts David and Patricia Kelly, who provide Advice for filmmakers.

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Sources close to the project say IMAX is likely to provide some support for the film if it is distributed. Sources add that IMAX, like others, expected the film to be much more commercial.

After the muted response to the screening on March 28, it is now unclear whether the studio will agree to a negative receiving deal, in which the studio buys the film outright, or a deal in which it distributes the film for a fee. One of the studio heads in attendance described it as “the kind of indie experiment” that might find a home in a streamer.

Most of those who spoke THR Description: A film that is difficult to sell to a wide audience. Two people say it's hard to know who's the good guy and who's the bad guy. The big exception is LaBeouf, who they say is the best thing in the movie (he's one of the antagonists).

Several of them mentioned a particularly awkward sequence involving Jon Voight's character in bed with what looks like a massive erection; Obviously the scene takes a completely different turn, but we won't spoil it here.

Not everyone is stopped. “I loved it so much,” says the niche brand founder, who describes it. Major cities As a “very big movie” with a “real life”. …How do you know the commercial? You look at the movie like Blade Runner And it became much more commercial than it was on its opening weekend. Despite the vote of confidence… Major cities It won't find a home in his studio: “It takes time to find the right match,” he says.

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However, another studio executive was less honest in his assessment: “It's not good at all, and it was very sad to watch. Anyone who puts a P&A behind it, they're going to lose money.” This is not the way Coppola should end his directorial career.

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