‘Megalopolis’ Debuts At Cannes With 7-Minute Standing Ovation

The most awaited film this year at the Cannes Film Festival, Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis, had its world premiere Thursday night, with the dystopian epic decades in the making landing a seven-minute standing ovation.

Coppola, the 85-year-old director and five-time Oscar winners, bowed as the lights came up inside the Grand Theatre Lumiere. He was congratulated by his Cotton Club star Richard Gere and got a hug from Cannes boss Thierry Fremaux as the ovation carried on.

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Said Coppola to the crowd finally: “Thank you all so much — it is impossible to find words how I feel.” He then introduced those around him — including his granddaughter and son and collaborator Roman Coppola and sister Talia Shire. He called his cast “family” and emphasized the movie’s end message: “We should pledge allegiance to our families…that children should inherit a beautiful world from us.”

Anticipation has been at its peak for Coppola’s first feature film in 13 years. It was evident even before the screening at Cannes’ famed Palais: The director of so many indelible films from The Conversation to Palme d’Or winner Apocalypse Now and the seminal Godfather trilogy got a three-minute-plus standing ovation from the audience before the screening ever started, as he took his seat surrounded by his cast including stars Adam Driver, Nathalie Emmanuel and Aubrey Plaza.

Megalopolis has been a huge bet for the iconic five-time Oscar winner, who self-financed the picture. This Cannes debut is an important platform given the film does not yet have North American distribution; ahead of the festival’s opening earlier this week it did pick up major international territory deals, and Imax has confirmed rollout plans for the movie.

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Coppola’s personal presence in Cannes is also especially notable given that Eleanor, his wife of more than 60 years, died only a few weeks ago.

Alongside Coppola this evening were the film’s stars including Driver, Plaza, Emmanuel, Shia LaBeouf, Giancarlo Esposito, Kathryn Hunter, Laurence Fishburne and Chloe Fineman among others flooding the Palais.

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Megalopolis is a Roman epic fable, set in an imagined modern America, where the city of New Rome must change, causing conflict between Cesar Catilina (Driver), a genius artist who seeks to leap into a utopian, idealistic future, and his opposition, Mayor Franklyn Cicero (Esposito), who remains committed to a regressive status quo, perpetuating greed, special interests and partisan warfare. Torn between them is socialite Julia Cicero (Emmanuel), the mayor’s daughter, whose love for Cesar has divided her loyalties, forcing her to discover what she truly believes humanity deserves.

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The movie also stars Jon Voight, Talia Shire, Jason Schwartzman, Grace VanderWaal, James Remar, D.B. Sweeney and Dustin Hoffman. Producers are Fred Roos, Barry Hirsch and Michael Bederman. EPs are Anahid Nazarian, Barrie Osborne and Darren Demetre.

Among the multiple zany moments in the film, the world premiere audience was surprised when — at a key moment in the film, just after a Russian satellite has landed on the city — the screen goes black, and an actor emerges from the wings of the Palais with a microphone stand. As if at a press conference, the actor poses a brief question to Adam Driver’s character, Cesar Catalina, who appears to answer it (at length) on the screen. It’s the only interactive moment in the entire film, but rumor has it that the stunt is part of the release plan and will be repeated wherever the film is shown in the Imax format.

Several people were seen exiting from the theater’s balcony as credits rolled and even as the ovation was underway.

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