Of all the utterly depressing things printed in the Hollywood trades on any given day, this has got to be among the worst: “It’s so not good, and it was so sad watching it … This is not how Coppola should end his directing career.”

This was in response to an early screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s Megalopolis, a $120 million sci-fi epic that the legendary Godfather director has been trying to make for roughly four decades. The quote, from an unnamed “studio head,” was published in a piece in The Hollywood Reporter positioning the film as the kind of movie no one in the business wants to funnel money into because it (allegedly) doesn’t have box office potential. While that quote was, in journalism parlance, the kicker, the real zinger came in the addendum at the end: “This story has been updated to include that Megalopolis will premiere in Cannes.”

Shot. Chaser.

THR’s piece doesn’t provide the gender of the studio exec quoted, but I’m going to go out on a limb: Sir, what the fuck are you talking about? Even if Megalopolis is two hours and 15 minutes of Adam Driver (yes, he stars) doing paper doll plays, Coppola has survived so much worse. This will not end his career. If anything, quotes like this signal an end of—or at least the massive need for a reboot of—Hollywood.

Earlier this week, Bilge Ebiri wrote a full-throated plea in Vulture, declaring “Hollywood Is Doomed If There’s No Room for Megalopolises.” Matt Zoller Seitz took a slightly different tack, addressing France directly from his desk at RogerEbert.com and begging Cannes Film Festival participants to cheer the film and save the US from itself. Both pointed out that many of Coppola’s films—Bram Stoker’s Dracula, One from the Heart—didn’t fully connect with audiences or critics when they were first released. The latter nearly bankrupted him—right after he mortgaged everything he owned to finance Apocalypse Now, which currently sits, alongside other Coppola films, on the American Film Institute’s top 100 movies of all time.

I’d like to make an entreaty of a different kind: Nerds, assemble. We have a long history of crowdfunding and letter-writing to manifest the projects on which Hollywood has wobbled. Bjo Trimble saved Star Trek. Queer sci-fi, Veronica Mars, The People’s Joker—we’ve raised cash for all of it. Studios don’t think Megalopolis is bankable; it may not appease any streaming service’s algorithm. Who cares. An online petition with enough backing can provide a marketing campaign to rival the multimillion-dollar one Coppola has envisioned. It’s worth a shot,

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.


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