Is the Godfather legacy in danger?
It's strange to think this lawsuit is even happening, especially considering that a sequel to The Godfather was already written some years back.
Nevertheless, Mario Puzo's son is apparently penning a follow-up to his father's famous gangster saga, and Paramount is suing him in an attempt to stop it. The upcoming book is The Family Corleone, and apparently the studio is worried the novel will tarnish the chronicle's legacy.
According to Deadline, Paramount felt one of the sequels to the book, The Godfather's Revenge "far from properly honoring the legacy of The Godfather, the unauthorized The Godfather's Revenge tarnished, and in the process, also misled consumers into believing that The Godfather's Revenge was authorized by Paramount."
Paramount also apparently has the Godfather logo with the hand holding the marionette strings.
The obvious joke that writes itself? What could anyone do to disgrace The Godfather's legacy more than Francis Ford Coppola making the lackluster Godfather III with a dreadful performance by his daughter? This debate has been brought up before when a video game of The Godfather came out, which Coppola wasn't happy about, denouncing it on the TV show Sunday Morning Shootout.
"I think it's tacky," says Fred Roos, who cast the film with Coppola. "Why not a video game of Gone With the Wind or Orson Welles' films? Is nothing sacred?" Taxi Driver also almost became a video game, and as screenwriter and long time Scorsese friend Jay Cocks (Gangs of New York) says, "I think it's hard enough to make good movies, and have them last, without having them trivialized and juvenalized for posterity."
Yet Roos stops short of saying turning The Godfather into a game is crossing the line. "I don't want to exactly say that because one has to be a realist," he continues. "The Godfather movies are great works of art, but they're also gigantic mass entertainment. That's the Holy Grail of moviemaking when you can do both. So I guess it's okay. It's such a part of the culture, and if the game gets people to go back, buy the DVD, and look at the movie seriously, that's a good thing."
Then again, it's like what Stephen King used to say when people asked him how he felt about Hollywood "ruining" his books, to which he'd reply, "My books have not been ruined. They're on the shelf right behind me. You can read 'em if you want to."
Ultimately, whatever anyone does in the future that's inspired by The Godfather, the movie will continue to stand undamaged. "I'm sure the original Godfather will long outlast any video game of it," says Michael Chapman, who was the camera operator on the film and went on to become the cinematographer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. "The sanctity of The Godfather as a movie is going to exist no matter what they do to it. You rent a DVD of it, and there it is, just as it always was."