Francis Ford Coppola Discusses Marvel, Theaters

Francis Ford Coppola attends Paramount Picture’s 50th Anniversary Celebration of “The Godfather” at the Paramount Studios Lot in Los Angeles, CA on Tuesday, February 22, 2022. (Alex J. Berliner/ABImages)

Francis Ford Coppola is on the press tour again with The Godfather turning fifty and recently discussed Marvel and theaters, among others.

His newest comments came during an interview with GQ senior staff writer Zach Baron. The article about Francis Ford Coppola is worth reading in its entirety so I highly recommend it. Every filmmaker has their thoughts on the current state, myself included. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Ben Affleck is right.

On Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, where Coppola planned to speak before a screening:

“To remind them of the thrill about going to a movie theater. I want West Side Story to do incredible business, to remind people that the theater debut is much more important than the so-called streaming. Streaming is just home video.”

I can more or less see this both ways. There is nothing better than taking in the theatrical experience. Watching at home means losing out on the communal aspect. My experience of Red Notice and Jungle Cruise differ than that of Uncharted for this reason. It’s why I go for the theater whenever I can. However, things are changing. Studios just are not wanting to take risks anymore. If it’s not a sure thing, it’s going to a streaming service. Or, if there is a theatrical release, the films will have a brief release before streaming. I wish the current state was different. Believe me, I do. Nothing can ever substitute for the thing that we’re probably going to be losing in some time from now.

The theater is sometimes better than watching at home. Take The Power of the Dog, for instance. This film is a one-viewing-only for me. No, it’s not a bad movie at all. It’s just that the home viewing experience simply cannot replicate the cinematic visuals on the big screen. I had the opportunity to see it on the big screen in Los Angeles and while I only had one regrettable restroom break, home viewing does not do the film justice. It’s a slow burner of a Western. Slow burners are best seen by taking in the theatrical experience.

Speaking of theaters, I’ve only seen four films on the big screen this year. Four! This is a low number even for me. Not including Sundance, I already saw 10 films by this point in 2020. This really speaks to the fewer amount of studio films opening in theaters. A film like Blacklight would otherwise screen in theaters for press. However, the Liam Neeson thriller was only made available as a press screener in Chicago.

The comments by Francis Ford Coppola about West Side Story came before the film’s December release. The Omicron surge would mean underperforming at the box office. It isn’t the only film that poorly performed. Nightmare Alley also suffered at the box office. Would not having a pandemic make a difference? Who knows. No, really. Because of the pandemic, the industry is changing faster than anyone could predict. Theaters will probably still be here but more films will go to streaming than ever before. I feel like we have the same conversation again and again. This is why I no longer focus on how films do at the box office. It’s great when a film is able to draw an audience. However, some films are unable to draw one despite the critical acclaim.

The conversation segued into a discussion about the current state of Hollywood so to speak.

Coppola loves movies but does not particularly recognize or enjoy the modern movie industry. “There used to be studio films,” he said. “Now there are Marvel pictures. And what is a Marvel picture? A Marvel picture is one prototype movie that is made over and over and over and over and over again to look different. Even the talented people—you could take Dune, made by Denis Villeneuve, an extremely talented, gifted artist, and you could take No Time to Die, directed by…Gary?” […]

“Cary Fukunaga—extremely gifted, talented, beautiful artists, and you could take both those movies, and you and I could go and pull the same sequence out of both of them and put them together. The same sequence where the cars all crash into each other. They all have that stuff in it, and they almost have to have it, if they’re going to justify their budget. And that’s the good films, and the talented filmmakers.”

Reading these comments and seeing what has become of the industry, I start to wonder if The Godfather could even be made today. Not so much made but could the film even be released in a theater. It’s one of the greatest films of all time but it’s something to think about. Look at the Oscar-winning Argo, for instance. Like Ben Affleck said, it would probably be a miniseries should a studio make it today.

Paramount will re-release The Godfather exclusively in Dolby Cinema at AMC Theatres on February 25, 2022. All three films will be made available on 4K Ultra HD for the first time ever on March 22, 2022.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.