Coppola and Costner have taken their share of financial risks, with the upcoming Megalopolis and Horizon following suit.
Filmmakers’ passion projects can easily spiral out of control, pushing directors and studios down a hole it could take decades to get out of. Right now, two Oscar-winning directors, Francis Ford Coppola and Kevin Costner, have their own in production, both of which have been on their minds since the 1980s.
Sitting down for a joint interview with Deadline, both Coppola and Costner gave their thoughts on the financial risks they have taken throughout their careers and what they hope comes of their projects: Coppola with sprawling epic Megalopolis and Costner with four-part western Horizon, both of which have budgets that reportedly exceed $100 million.
For Megalopolis, Coppola put up his own cash; but with that, he says, comes feeling like a true auteur. “Authorship only means the film is honest to the theme and the premise. It has to be personal, real; it can’t be a synthesis of what people have decided would be a good formula for a movie.” Costner, meanwhile, put up land to fund Horizon, a project he became interested in back in 1988 and nearly got greenlit after the success of Open Range. Costner, too, knows that by doing this, he can put more creativity into the film without as much studio interference. “I’ve mortgaged 10 acres on the water in Santa Barbara where I was going to build my last house…But I did it without a thought. It has thrown my accountant into a fucking conniption fit. But it’s my life, and I believe in the idea and the story.”
Neither Coppola nor Costner is new to putting it all on the line for a film. For the former, 1982’s One from the Heart was such a monumental flop that it proved to be a final nail in the New Hollywood’s coffin and forced Coppola into filing for bankruptcy. Costner, meanwhile, acknowledges being the target of media and industry scrutiny over his works. “I know when I was making Dances with Wolves, they were calling it Kevin’s Gate,” referring to Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, which helped end the New Hollywood era of director-driven films, “even though they didn’t know that I put all my money into this thing.” In most cases, Kevin’s Gate is more accurately assigned to Waterworld.
Despite past financial and critical harm, both Coppola and Costner don’t think they’re truly putting anything substantial at risk. As Coppola put it, “What are you risking? You’re risking something that you’re lucky to have, which is the ability to finance a movie.” Costner agreed, stating, “People might look at this and say, ‘Oh, this is a gamble.’ And I go, ‘Well, I guess it is, but do I want to go to Vegas and gamble’” No. I’m not that kind of gambler. I gamble on the love of story.”
As far as release dates for the next Francis Ford Coppola and Kevin Costner films, the Dances with Wolves director hopes to take it to this year’s Venice Film Festival while The Godfather helmer doesn’t expect it out this year.
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Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/coppola-and-costner-discuss-risking-money-and-land-over-passion-projects/