Francis Ford Coppola

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Francis Ford Coppola : biography

7 April 1939 –

Contact dispute with Carl Sagan/Warner Bros.

During the filming of Contact on December 28, 1996, Coppola filed a lawsuit against Carl Sagan and Warner Bros.. Sagan had died a week earlier and Coppola claimed that Sagan’s novel Contact was based on a story the pair had developed for a television special back in 1975, titled First Contact. Under their development agreement, Coppola and Sagan were to split proceeds from the project with American Zoetrope and Children’s Television Workshop Productions, as well as any novel Sagan would write. The TV program was never produced, but in 1985, Simon & Schuster published Sagan’s Contact and Warner Bros. moved forward with development of a film adaptation. Coppola sought at least $250,000 in compensatory damages and an injunction against production or distribution of the film. Even though Sagan was shown to have violated some of the terms of the agreement, the case was dismissed in February 1998 because Coppola had waited too long to file suit.

2000s

Youth Without Youth (2007)

After a 10-year hiatus, Coppola returned to film direction with Youth Without Youth in 2007, based on the novella of the same name by Romanian author Mircea Eliade. The film was poorly reviewed, currently holding a 30% ‘rotten’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was made for about $19 million and was given a limited release, only managing $2,624,759 at the box-office. As a result, Coppola announced his plans to produce his own films in order to avoid the marketing input that goes into most films and so trying to make them appeal to too wide an audience.

Tetro (2009)

In 2009, Coppola released Tetro. It was "set in Argentina, with the reunion of two brothers. The story follows the rivalries born out of creative differences passed down through generations of an artistic Italian immigrant family." The film received generally positive reviews from critics. On Metacritic, the film has an average metascore of 63% based on 19 reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 68% of critics gave positive reviews based on 71 reviews with an average score of 5.6/10. Overall, the Rotten Tomatoes consensus was: "A complex meditation on family dynamics, Tetro’s arresting visuals and emotional core compensate for its uneven narrative." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 stars, praising the film for being "boldly operatic, involving family drama, secrets, generations at war, melodrama, romance and violence". Ebert also praised Vincent Gallo’s performance and claimed that Alden Ehrenreich is "the new Leonardo DiCaprio". Todd McCarthy of Variety gave the film a B+ judging that "when Coppola finds creative nirvana, he frequently has trouble delivering the full goods." Richard Corliss of TIME gave the film a mixed review, praising Ehrenreich’s performance, but claiming Coppola "has made a movie in which plenty happens, but nothing rings true." It has made $2,636,774 worldwide, against a budget of $5,000,000

2010s

Twixt (2011)

Twixt, starring Val Kilmer, Elle Fanning, Joanne Whalley and Bruce Dern and narrated by Tom Waits, was released to film festivals in late 2011 and was released theatrically in early 2012. It has received critical acclaim in France.

Personal life

In February 1963, Coppola married Eleanor Neil, whom he met on the set of Dementia 13. They had three children: Gian-Carlo, born 1963; Roman, born 1965 and Sofia, born 1971.

Gian-Carlo Coppola, was in the early stages of a film production career when he was killed on May 26, 1986 in a speedboat accident. His daughter Gia was born to Jacqui de la Fontaine after he died in 1986 and is now an actress.

Sofia Coppola appeared in all three Godfather films, the first two movies uncredited: as the infant being baptised at the end of The Godfather; as a young child on board ship in The Godfather Part II and in a supporting role as Michael Corleone’s daughter Mary in The Godfather Part III and is now an Academy Award-winning writer and nominated director. Her films include The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation. In 2004, she became the first American woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for Lost in Translation.