Coppola and Costner talk about the risks of investing in passion projects and risking money and land.


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 is only a sign that the film is true to its theme and 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 knows that he can be more creative with the film by doing this. “I’ve mortgaged ten acres on the water where I was planning to build my last home in Santa Barbara…But I didn’t think about it. My accountant is having a conniption-like 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. The 1982 film One From the Heart proved to be such a flop for Coppola that it forced him to file for bankruptcy. Costner acknowledges that his work has been scrutinized by the media and industry. “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. Coppola asked,: “What are you putting at risk? You’re putting at risk something you’re fortunate to have: the ability to fund a film. I’m not a gambler. I gamble on the love for story.” What is your favourite Francis Ford Coppola/Kevin Costner film? Give us your thoughts below!

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