February 23, 2024

News broke in May 2020 that Sofia Coppola was partnering with Apple TV+ to develop a series adaptation of Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel “The Custom of the Country.” Three years later, the project is dead. Why? In a new interview with The New York Times, Coppola claimed that Apple execs did not want to spend the money on her five-hour adaptation due to issues they had with the main character.

“The idea of an unlikable woman wasn’t their thing,” Coppola said. “But that’s what I’m saying about who’s in charge.”

“The people in charge of giving money are usually straight men, still,” she said earlier in the interview. “There’s always people in lower levels who are like myself, but then the bosses have a certain sensibility… If it’s so hard for me to get financing as an established person, I worry about younger women starting out. It’s surprising that it’s still a struggle.”

Apple did not return Variety’s request for comment. The company did not entirely abandon Wharton, however, as it has an adaptation of the author’s unfinished novel “The Buccaneers” set for a streaming debut next month. Apple has a variety of shows featuring female protagonists, from “The Morning Show” to “Bad Sisters.”

“The Custom of the Country” tells the story of Undine Spragg, a Midwestern girl who attempts to ascend in New York City society. Coppola called Undine her “favorite literary anti-heroine” when the project was first announced. She previously worked with Apple on her 2020 father-daughter dramedy “On the Rocks,” starring Rashida Jones and Bill Murray.

Coppola’s latest directorial effort is “Priscilla,” which has received praise from critics since its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. She told The New York Times that a bulk of financing for the film fell through last October right before the start of production. An entire week of filming had to be cut as the budget was down $2 million, which brought the total shoot schedule to 30 days.

“It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do,” Coppola said.

“Priscilla” is now playing in select theaters and opens nationwide Nov. 3 from A24.

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