The Mario Puzo estate is publishing another Godfather book, this time a prequel that tells the story of Vito's rise through the New York underworld to become capo di tutti capi. But Paramount isn't happy, and they're suing to stop The Family Corleone from being published. The legal issues here are complex - Puzo essentially signed away everything related to The Godfather when he sold his book - but this section of the Hollywood Reporter article on the suit caught my eye:
"Far from properly honoring the legacy of The Godfather," says Paramount in its latest complaint, a copy of which was obtained by THR. "The unauthorized The Godfather's Revenge tarnished it, and in the process, also misled consumers in connection with advertising, marketing, and promotional material related to the first and second sequel novels."
Considering the glut of shitty Godfather video games it's hard to imagine that Paramount has much concern for the legacy of The Godfather - unless they believe a Mafia Wars ripoff on Facebook is honoring that legacy. But what will they do with that legacy?
This is a question I have pondered over many a beer with my friend Mr. Beaks from Ain't It Cool, and we have both come to the conclusion that we will live to see The Godfather remade. And neither of us expect to live all that long.
There's a certain inevitability to the whole thing. There's always the looming possibility of a Godfather iV, which at one point had Leonardo DiCaprio involved, but I think a remake is what will more likely happen. Eddie Murphy has apparently been interested in playing Don Corleone for years, and a black remake has a certain commercial smarts to it. Set the film in the 70s or 80s as a conflict between generations of black gangsters, try and make it a prestige project with strong actors, and you might have something.
For those of us who love film the idea of remaking The Godfather is sacrilege. It's easily one of the greatest American films of all time. But the people who make the decisions at Hollywood studios don't love movies the way we do, and what they see is a brand name property gathering dust. There are horror stories I could tell you about development executives who have beyond zero concept of film history before the year 2000, and I firmly believe there are many, many film executives working today who have never seen The Godfather. I'd bet a couple of them work at Paramount. These are the people who will make the decision to remake The Godfather.
We are 40 years from the release of the first film, and we are 22 years from the release of the last film. That is an eternity for such a profitable, well-regarded brand to lay dormant. I know that this concept has already been kicked around in the halls of Paramount. The question isn't if they remake Francis Ford Coppola's classic, it's simply when. And the question to you is: can it be done well?