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At Least It’s Not A Reboot: GODFATHER Prequel Set Loose Upon Bookshelves Amid Legal Tussle
It’s called The Family Corleone, and it’s been out since May 8th, a fact which makes the following legal squabble a little redundant as, really, who cares? The book is out, read it if you want; wait for the inevitable movie, if you can’t be bothered.
Written by Ed Falco, based on a “screenplay” by original Godfather author Mario Puzo (if the cover copy is to be believed), The Family Corleone is a prequel to the bestselling book and all-time classic movie. Set in the 1930s, it appears to centre around the relationship between Vito Corleone and his young children, especially hot-headed Sonny Corleone (played by James Caan in the movie), about whom Vito is quite concerned.
So where was the beef?
On Paramount’s plate.
According to the film studio, the book “tarnished the legacy” of the films (insert your own cruel Godfather III joke here) and sued Puzo’s estate. Puzo’s estate flipped things around, counter-suing the studio, claiming that the Paramount contract did not cover book rights between Paramount and Mario.
It’s all rather boring really, so let’s instead go on a journey back in time with Hollywood saviour, Godfather producer and my hero, Robert Evans, who, as detailed in his brilliant autobiography, The Kid Stays In The Picture, met Mario Puzo in 1968.
At the time, Evans was head of Paramount and about to unleash some of the greatest films of the following decade (and ever, really) upon a very bored film going public. His meeting with Puzo was a favour to a friend and it resulted in the purchase of little more than a concept that Puzo had called Mafia. Puzo owed ten grand in gambling debts. Evans gave him twelve and a half, “One gambler helping another gambler out of a heavy muscle jam,” as Evans puts it in his book.
The novel The Godfather came out a year and a half later and became a best seller.
I don’t need to detail the success and acclaim of the film and its sequel.
Back to the present and Deadline tells us that Paramount and Puzo’s estate have reached a deal to allow The Family Corleone to remain in print. One surely suspects any doubts over the film rights have been well and truly resolved.