American Zoetrope

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American Zoetrope
Company typeProduction company
IndustryMotion pictures
FoundedDecember 12, 1969; 54 years ago (1969-12-12)
FounderFrancis Ford Coppola
George Lucas
OwnerFrancis Ford Coppola
Roman Coppola
Sofia Coppola

American Zoetrope (also known as Omni Zoetrope from 1977 to 1980 and Zoetrope Studios from 1980 until 1990) is a privately run American film production company, centered in San Francisco, California and founded by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas.

Opened on December 12, 1969,[1] the studio has produced not only the films of Coppola (including Apocalypse Now, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Tetro), but also George Lucas's pre-Star Wars film THX 1138, as well as many others by avant-garde directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Akira Kurosawa, Wim Wenders and Godfrey Reggio. American Zoetrope was an early adopter of digital filmmaking, including some of the earliest uses of HDTV.[2]

Four films produced by American Zoetrope are included in the American Film Institute's Top 100 Films. American Zoetrope-produced films have received 15 Academy Awards and 68 nominations.

American Zoetrope is located in the Sentinel Building


Initially located in a warehouse at 827[3][4][5] Folsom Street on the second floor of The Automatt building, the company's headquarters have, since 1972,[6] been in the historic Sentinel Building, at 916 Kearny Street in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood.

Coppola named the studio after a zoetrope he was given in the late 1960s by the filmmaker and collector of early film devices, Mogens Skot-Hansen.[7] "Zoetrope" is also the name by which Coppola's quarterly fiction magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story, is often known.

In 1980, the company bought General Service Studios in Hollywood, California, and became Zoetrope Studios, to produce and distribute films, as did later DreamWorks studio.[8][9]

In 1999, it signed a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for a first-look financing and production agreement.[10] In 2000, it signed a 10-year financing pact with VCL Film + Meiden to handle foreign sales of their own titles.[11]

By 2007, ownership of American Zoetrope had been passed to Coppola's son and daughter, directors Roman Coppola and Sofia Coppola.[12]

In 2010, Lionsgate announced a deal to distribute American Zoetrope films, including classics like "The Conversation" and "Apocalypse Now," in North America on DVD, Blu-ray, electronic-sell-through, VOD as well as broadcast distribution rights.[13] The only movies from the Coppola canon that won't be released as part of the pact are the "Godfather" trilogy, which is owned by Paramount.[14], the Coppola family's website, was created around 1996 and became an online community for writers. In 2016, Francis Ford Coppola announced its relaunch as a "virtual studio".[15]


Feature films[edit]

Year Title Director Company Credit References
1969 The Rain People Francis Ford Coppola American Zoetrope Production company [16][17]
1971 THX 1138 George Lucas [16]
1972 The Godfather Francis Ford Coppola [16]
Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King Hans-Jürgen Syberberg Distributor [16]
1973 American Graffiti George Lucas Production company [16]
1974 The Conversation Francis Ford Coppola [16]
The Godfather Part II Francis Ford Coppola Production facilities furnished through (as American Zoetrope San Francisco) [16]
1977 Perfumed Nightmare Kidlat Tahimik Distributor [16]
Hitler: A Film from Germany Hans-Jürgen Syberberg Omni Zoetrope Distributor [16]
1979 Apocalypse Now Francis Ford Coppola Production company [16][18]
The Black Stallion Carroll Ballard [16]
1980 Sauve qui peut (la vie) Jean-Luc Godard Zoetrope Studios Production company/distributor [16]
Kagemusha Akira Kurosawa Production company [16]
1982 Parsifal Hans-Jürgen Syberberg Distributor [16]
The Escape Artist Caleb Deschanel Production company [16]
Passion Jean-Luc Godard Production company/distributor [16]
The Grey Fox Phillip Borsos Production company [16]
Koyaanisqatsi Godfrey Reggio
The Making of 'One from the Heart' Tony St. John
Hammett Wim Wenders [16]
One from the Heart Francis Ford Coppola Production company/distributor [16]
1983 The Outsiders Francis Ford Coppola Production company [16]
Rumble Fish Francis Ford Coppola [16]
The Black Stallion Returns Robert Dalva [16]
1984 The Cotton Club Francis Ford Coppola [16]
1985 Seven Minutes in Heaven Linda Feferman
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters Paul Schrader [16]
1986 Peggy Sue Got Married Francis Ford Coppola [16]
1987 Tough Guys Don't Dance Norman Mailer
Gardens of Stone Francis Ford Coppola [16]
Barfly Barbet Schroeder [16]
1988 Tucker: The Man and His Dream Francis Ford Coppola
1989 Wait Until Spring, Bandini Dominique Deruddere [16]
1990 The Godfather Part III Francis Ford Coppola [16]
1991 Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse Fax Bahr, Eleanor Coppola, and George Hickenlooper American Zoetrope [16]
1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula Francis Ford Coppola [16]
Wind Carroll Ballard [16]
1993 The Secret Garden Agnieszka Holland [16]
1994 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Kenneth Branagh [16]
Don Juan DeMarco Jeremy Leven [16]
1995 Haunted Lewis Gilbert
My Family Gregory Nava [16]
1996 Jack Francis Ford Coppola [16]
1997 The Rainmaker Francis Ford Coppola [16]
Buddy Caroline Thompson Production company (as An American Zoetrope Production) [16]
1999 The Florentine Nick Stagliano Production company
The Virgin Suicides Sofia Coppola [16]
The Third Miracle Agnieszka Holland [16]
Sleepy Hollow Tim Burton [16]
2001 Jeepers Creepers Victor Salva [16]
CQ Roman Coppola [16]
No Such Thing Hal Hartley [16]
Suriyothai Chatrichalerm Yukol [16]
2002 Pumpkin Anthony Abrams and Adam Larson Broder [16]
Assassination Tango Robert Duvall [16]
2003 Lost in Translation Sofia Coppola [16]
Jeepers Creepers 2 Victor Salva [16]
2004 Kinsey Bill Condon Production company (uncredited) [16]
2006 Marie Antoinette Sofia Coppola Production company [16]
The Good Shepherd Robert De Niro [16]
2007 Youth Without Youth Francis Ford Coppola [16]
2009 Tetro Francis Ford Coppola [16]
2010 Somewhere Sofia Coppola
2011 Twixt Francis Ford Coppola [16]
2012 A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III Roman Coppola [16]
On the Road Walter Salles [16]
2013 Palo Alto Gia Coppola [16]
The Bling Ring Sofia Coppola [16]
2014 Life After Beth Jeff Baena [16]
2015 A Very Murray Christmas Sofia Coppola [16]
Last Days in the Desert Rodrigo García [19]
2016 Paris Can Wait Eleanor Coppola [16]
Joshy Jeff Baena [16]
2017 The Beguiled Sofia Coppola [16]
2020 Love Is Love Is Love Eleanor Coppola [20]
On the Rocks Sofia Coppola [21]
2021 Mainstream Gia Coppola [22]
2023 Fairyland Andrew Durham [23]
Priscilla Sofia Coppola
2024 Megalopolis Francis Ford Coppola

Television series[edit]

Year Title Creator Company Credit Network Notes References
1990 The Outsiders characters by:
S.E. Hinton
developed by:
S.E. Hinton
Joe Byrne
Jeb Rosebrook
Zoetrope Studios Production Company Fox co-production with Papazian-Hirsch Entertainment
1997 The Odyssey Andrei Konchalovsky
based on Odyssey by:
American Zoetrope Production Company (as American Zoetrope San Francisco) NBC miniseries; co-production with Hallmark Entertainment [16]
1998 Moby Dick Anton Diether
Franc Roddam
Benedict Fitzgerald
based on Moby-Dick by:
Herman Melville
Production Company USA Network miniseries; co-production with Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network Australia and USA Pictures [16]
1998–2001 First Wave Chris Brancato Sci-Fi Channel co-production with Sugar Entertainment [16]
2003 Platinum John Ridley
Sofia Coppola
UPN co-production with The Greenblatt/Janollari Studio, International Famous Players Radio Picture Corporation and Eye Productions [24]
2004–2007 The 4400 René Echevarria
Scott Peters
USA Network co-production with Renegade 83, Viacom Productions (season 1), Paramount Network Television (season 2) and CBS Paramount Network Television (seasons 3–4)
2014–2018 Mozart in the Jungle based on Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music by:
Blair Tindall
developed by:
Roman Coppola
Jason Schwartzman
Alex Timbers
Paul Weitz
Amazon Video co-production with Depth of Field, Picrow and Amazon Studios [16]
Cafe Zoetrope at ground level of the building

Cafe Zoetrope[edit]

In the building lobby, Coppola operates a small Italian café, Cafe Zoetrope, featuring Inglenook Estate wine and memorabilia from his films.[25] Earlier, the building had been the location of Enrico Banducci's "hungry i" nightclub.

The neighborhood is well known for its cafes and its writers. Coppola wrote much of the screenplay for The Godfather in the nearby Caffe Trieste and Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books is located up Columbus Avenue from the Sentinel Building.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Fog City Mavericks. Starz, Englewood, CO, USA. June 15, 2011. Television.
  2. ^ "Francis Ford Coppola". UCLA School of TFT. Retrieved June 13, 2023.
  3. ^ Howell, Daedalus (January 31, 2013). "American Zoetrope: 827 Folsom, San Francisco". Daedalus Howell. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  4. ^ oneperfectshot. "[WATCH] The Rise and Revolution of American Zoetrope and New Hollywood". Twitter. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  5. ^ Connelly, Sherilyn (October 24, 2011). "The City's First Dot-Com, 1969: George Lucas and Francis Coppola's American Zoetrope". SF Weekly. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  6. ^ "American Zoetrope: Films". Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  7. ^ Exclusive Interview: Coppola Archivist James Mockoski, retrieved June 14, 2023
  8. ^ "Forerunner to Dreamworks, Coppola's risky Zoetrope Studios bucked system". Variety. November 11, 1997. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  9. ^ Hellerman, Jason (October 26, 2020). "How Did Coppola's American Zoetrope Almost Change Hollywood?". No Film School. Retrieved March 2, 2022.
  10. ^ Higgins, Bill (June 4, 1999). "MGM-Coppola deal shifts". Variety. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
  11. ^ Dawtrey, Adam; Harris, Dana (May 16, 2000). "Zoetrope, VCL pact". Variety. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
  12. ^ Coppola stated this in an interview with Harry Knowles for Ain't It Cool News published on May 8, 2007.
  13. ^ "Lionsgate, Zoetrope ink distribution deal | THR". The Hollywood Reporter. July 26, 2010.
  14. ^ "Lionsgate Distributing Coppola Classics on DVD, Blu-ray | THR". July 26, 2010.
  15. ^ "Francis Ford Coppola Re-Launches Virtual Studio Zoetrope | Brent Land | The Wrap". July 26, 2010.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq "American Zoetrope: Films", Retrieved 2023-07-17.
  17. ^ American Zoetrope [us]
  18. ^ Zoetrope Studios [us]
  19. ^ "Last Days in the Desert". Cinefex. Archived from the original on September 30, 2021. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  20. ^ Goldsmith, Jill (March 3, 2020). "Tribeca Sets Feature Lineup Of Films For 2020 Fest". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  21. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 15, 2019). "Sofia Coppola And Bill Murray To Reteam For 'On The Rocks', Apple & A24's First Film". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  22. ^ McNary, Dave (October 30, 2018). "Film News Roundup: Andrew Garfield Joins Gia Coppola's Romance Movie 'Mainstream'". Variety. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  23. ^ Vlessing, Etan (June 6, 2022). "Emilia Jones, Scoot McNairy Star in 'Fairyland' Adaptation for American Zoetrope". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  24. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (April 14, 2003). "TELEVISION REVIEW; 'Dynasty,' with a Hip-Hop Beat". The New York Times.
  25. ^ "Cafe Zoetrope". Archived from the original on May 25, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2012.

External links[edit]