‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ Celebrates 30th Anniversary With 4K Ultra HD Steelbook

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the horror classic Bram Stoker’s Dracula by reissuing the film on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Oct. 4 in a limited-edition Steelbook with new special features.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Bram Stoker’s Dracula revisits the classic and chilling tale about the devastatingly seductive Transylvanian prince (Gary Oldman) who travels from Eastern Europe to 19th-century London in search of human love. When Dracula meets Mina (Winona Ryder), a young woman who appears as the reincarnation of his lost love, the two embark on a journey of romantic passion and horror.

The new 4K Ultra HD edition includes the film presented in 4K resolution with Dolby Vision, including the original theatrical English subtitle font for texted instances. Fans can enjoy Dolby Atmos audio + 5.1 + Dolby Stereo.

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New special features include the Annie Lennox music video for “Love Song For A Vampire” and the featurette “Blood Lines — Dracula: The Man, The Myth, The Movies.”

The film also will be reissued on regular Blu-ray Disc, sourced from the 4K master, with Dolby Atmos audio.

The Offer

STREAMING REVIEW:

Paramount+;
Drama;
Not rated;
Stars Miles Teller, Matthew Goode, Dan Fogler, Burn Gorman, Colin Hanks, Giovanni Ribisi, Juno Temple, Patrick Gallo.

There are a few ways to interpret “The Offer.” On the surface, it’s the story of the quest to achieve a creative vision no matter what it takes. From another perspective, it’s a studio, Paramount, celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of its greatest achievements, The Godfather, by sensationalizing a unique period of Hollywood history.

The details as presented in the 10-part limited series series now streaming in its entirety on Paramount+ likely lean more on the side of embellishment than fact, punching up the outlandishness beyond the point of believability in some cases. But that hardly matters when the end result is as entertaining a guilty pleasure as it turned out to be.

The particulars of the making of the “Godfather” films are easy enough to come by, given the plethora of bonus materials on DVD and Blu-ray releases of the trilogy over the years, not to mention countless books on the subject. The primary inspiration for “The Offer” is credited to the experiences of producer Albert S. Ruddy, thus making him the central figure for the series.

Ruddy (Miles Teller) is introduced as a bored programmer at the Rand Corporation who, thanks to a chance encounter, ends up creating “Hogan’s Heroes” for CBS (in truth, Ruddy’s Hollywood experience stretches back before his time at Rand).

Wanting to break into film, Ruddy convinces Paramount boss Robert Evans (Matthew Goode) to give him a shot with a low-budget film starring Robert Redford.

Meanwhile, Mario Puzo (Patrick Gallo) writes The Godfather, which turns out to be one of the best-selling novels of all time. Paramount owns the rights to make a movie version, but parent company Gulf + Western doesn’t want to risk too much money on yet another “gangster picture,” so they stick Ruddy on it.

Ruddy immediately breaks convention by hiring Puzo to write the screenplay (Hollywood for the longest time had taboos about creatives crossing mediums — TV to movies, novels to screenplays, etc.). When Puzo’s efforts stall, Ruddy brings in Francis Ford Coppola (Dan Fogler) to direct — another controversial move given Coppola’s disastrous track record as a director despite an Oscar win for writing Patton. Coppola is reluctant at first, but agrees to the project on the basis of bringing authenticity to an epic story about an Italian family.

Sticking Puzo and Coppola in a house together to hash out the screenplay (even though in real life they supposedly worked on it separately), Ruddy must then deal with a bigger obstacle to the film — opposition from the mafia itself, who see the book as a slur. Frank Sinatra is particularly offended by a crooner character in the novel, and vows to shut down the production.

Now supposedly thrust into the middle of a mob war against Hollywood, Ruddy makes pals with mob boss Joe Colombo (Giovanni Ribisi), which gets some heat off the film but doesn’t please the corporate brass at Gulf + Western or Paramount. Meanwhile, Colombo’s support of the film draws out some of his enemies within the mob who seek to replace him.

And so the series continues as a tug-of-war between artistic integrity, mafia greed and the corporate bottom line. The mob influence on the production was probably played up to draw parallels to the movie’s storyline, while the show contains no shortage of references to nostalgia touchpoints from the era audiences will recognize, from other movies to some of the actors up for roles in the film.

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As with most docudramas, certain events and characters are condensed and conflated for the sake of the narrative. For instance, Colombo rival Joe Gallo is shown being taken out because his attempts to extort the production threaten the budget to film in Sicily, when in reality he wasn’t killed until after the movie was released.

The cast is mostly solid, and Teller does a great job carrying the load as Ruddy, though his portrayal as a miracle worker and solver of all problems seems to be a bit overblown. Ribisi, on the other hand, is so over-the-top as Colombo he seems like he’s on a different show. But the standout is Goode as Robert Evans, so completely transforming into the iconic Hollywood executive that it might as well be Evans playing himself. If Paramount+ doesn’t greenlight a docudrama of Evans’ autobiography The Kid Stays in the Picture starring Goode, it will be missing out.

Through Evans, “The Offer” gets to indulge a bit in telling the story of Paramount in general in the early 1970s, when he was brought in by Gulf + Western boss Charles Bluhdorn (Burn Gorman) to turn the studio’s fortunes around. As such, the show delves a bit into the success of Love Story, starring Evans’ wife Ali MacGraw, and how their marriage disintegrated when he started to focus on The Godfather, and she ended up in the arms of Steven McQueen on the set of The Getaway. Evans also keeps an eye on his next project, Chinatown, despite his corporate overlords wanting to dump it as something they “don’t understand.” (Corporate stooges being idiots when it comes to art is a big theme of the show.)

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Those familiar with The Kid Stays in the Picture (the book or the 2002 documentary adaptation of it narrated by Evans) might note a number of discrepancies between Evans’ own accounts of these events and how “The Offer” portrays them. For instance, in the show, Coppola and Ruddy are fighting with Gulf + Western over how long The Godfather is, preferring the nearly three-hour version we all know and love today, while the bean-counters want to maximize screenings with a two-hour version (a classic debate in Hollywood — the best-known recent example involving the 2017 Justice League movie). Evans has to swoop in from a drunken stupor over his failed marriage to save the longer cut, thus sending the film on a path toward Oscar glory.

In Evans’ own account, Coppola turned in a two-hour version, and Evans ordered him to recut it to make it longer, thus delaying the film from a Christmas 1971 release to March 1972 (a delay mentioned in the show that doesn’t make much sense if the longer cut already existed). Conjecture over the editing of The Godfather has occupied much discussion over the years, and Coppola’s own accounts would likely fill further volumes.

For however inaccurate it may be, “The Offer” is still first and foremost a love letter to The Godfather, and should only serve to build on fans’ appreciation of that classic film, and a love of cinema in general.

Craig and the Camel May Be Gone, But Transactional Marketing Still Going Strong

For me, the pinnacle of marketing at the height of the DVD era was Craig Kornblau on a camel.

It was the heyday of event marketing. DVD had become such a monstrous success that disc revenues were outpacing theatrical. DVD potential was even a factor in deciding whether to greenlight movies.

No wonder, then, that at a time when a hot new DVD release could sell 20 million copies or more, just in the first week, the release of a big theatrical film on disc was hailed as a big event — and marketed accordingly.

I remember Disney’s gala launch party for the Ratatouille DVD, with more than a thousand guests crowding a ballroom at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel for a gastronomical feast.

I remember flying to London for a party to celebrate New Line Home Video’s release of the Lost in Space movie.

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I remember Warner Home Video’s Superman party, where I joked to then-president Ron Sanders that the shindig probably cost the studio more than they were spending on advertising with Home Media Magazine all year.

I remember being flown to London by PolyGram to celebrate the DVD release of Phantom of the Opera, as well as three Super Bowls (thanks, Bill Sondheim!) to drum up excitement for the subsequent NFL Super Bowl DVD.

And then there was Craig Kornblau and the camel. The “event” was the 2002 DVD release of The Scorpion King, and amid a throng of beefy warriors, belly dancers and flame explosions I remember looking up and seeing Kornblau, at the time president of Universal Studios Home Video, and his top marketing executive, Ken Graffeo, riding down Sunset Boulevard on a pair of massive dromedaries. A Los Angeles Times article from October 2002 picks up the story from there: “Moments later, the entire caravan, writhing women, camels and all, crossed Sunset Boulevard to the Virgin Megastore across the street, where confused shoppers were rapidly overrun by belly dancers, snake handlers and jugglers.”

The reporter quoted Kornblau as saying the studio hoped to generate earn more than $36 million in the first week of sales, more than the first week of box office for the film’s theatrical release.

These days, physical and digital sales of movies, even combined, area fraction of DVD sales 20 years ago, due to the rise and domination of subscription streaming.

And yet studio marketers continue to “eventize” new transactional releases, although invariably some, if not most, of a campaign’s components take place virtually, often through tie-ins with social media influencers.

In this year’s Power Marketing report, our fourth annual look at the top marketing campaigns of the past year, we profile nearly a dozen standouts from the major studios — and as you’ll see, creativity and ingenuity are certainly not in short supply. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, for example, launched F9 into the home market by getting stars Vin Diesel and Ludacris to share custom content on their Instagram accounts, followed by F9 Fest, a huge press and social media influencer event with interviews, a rooftop zipline stunt experience and even an F9 museum, featuring vehicles from the film.

And Paramount celebrated the 50thanniversary of The Godfather, and the landmark film’s 4K Ultra HD debut, with all sorts of creative executions, strategic partnerships and publicity events. A press screening on the studio lot was preceded by a panel discussion with director Francis Ford Coppola and stars James Caan and Talia Shire — along with a street-naming celebration and the presentation of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to Coppola.

Craig and his camel may be long gone, but “eventizing” home releases is certainly still a “thing.

Fandango Celebrates Vudu’s 4K Release of ‘Godfather’ Trilogy With Exclusive Clip

Fandango is celebrating the arrival of the iconic “Godfather” movies in 4K on its transactional VOD service Vudu with an exclusive “before and after restoration” video clip.

The clip shows a scene from The Godfather Part II with Al Pacino.

For the 50th anniversary of The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola’s remastered and restored “The Godfather Trilogy” arrives on digital for the first time in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision.

The classic film is available as a standalone or as part of the “Godfather” trilogy, featuring The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The Godfather is available on Vudu in 4K Ultra HD for a limited time for $12.99, while the trilogy is available in 4K Ultra HD for $29.99. Fans who previously bought the movies on Vudu prior to March 22 can upgrade to 4K Ultra HD with special pricing. 

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This latest 4K Ultra HD offering from Vudu follows the service’s exclusive release of “Game of Thrones” on 4K Ultra HD.

‘The Offer’ to Premiere to U.S. Paramount+ Subs April 28

Paramount+ will premiere the original limited series “The Offer” April 28, exclusively for U.S. subscribers.

From Paramount Television Studios, the series is based on Oscar-winning producer Albert S. Ruddy’s experiences of making The Godfather. The series stars Miles Teller as Albert S. Ruddy, Matthew Goode as Robert Evans, Juno Temple as Bettye McCartt, Giovanni Ribisi as Joe Colombo, Dan Fogler as Francis Ford Coppola, Burn Gorman as Charles Bluhdorn, Colin Hanks as Barry Lapidus and Patrick Gallo as Mario Puzo.

The first three episodes of the 10-episode series will be available to stream at launch. Following the premiere, the remaining seven episodes will be available to stream weekly on Thursdays.

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The 10-episode event series is created and written by Oscar- and Emmy-nominated writer Michael Tolkin (Escape at Dannemora, The Player) and also written and executive produced by Nikki Toscano (“Hunters”), who also serves as showrunner. In addition to Tolkin and Toscano, two-time Oscar-winner Albert S. Ruddy (Million Dollar Baby, The Longest Yard), Miles Teller, Russell Rothberg and Leslie Greif serve as executive producers on the series alongside Dexter Fletcher (Rocketman), who also directed the first block of the series.

‘Godfather’ Trilogy Debuts on 4K Ultra HD March 22

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Francis Ford Coppola’s  The Godfather, all three films in the epic trilogy have been restored under the direction of Coppola and will be made available on 4K Ultra HD for the first time on March 22. Also, Paramount Pictures  will give the 1972 Best Picture Oscar winner a limited theatrical release in Dolby Vision beginning Feb. 25 exclusively in Dolby Cinema at AMC Theatres in the United States, as well as in international territories around the world. 

Newly restored and remastered in Dolby Vision, all three films in the landmark trilogy will be released together with HDR10 on 4K Ultra HD Digital and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for the first time ever. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set will include The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and Coppola’s recently re-edited version of the final film, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone. The disc set includes legacy commentaries by Coppola, as well as access to digital copies of The The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone.

“I am very proud of The Godfather, which certainly defined the first third of my creative life,” Coppola said in a statement. “With this 50th anniversary tribute, I’m especially proud Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is included, as it captures Mario and my original vision in definitively concluding our epic trilogy. It’s also gratifying to celebrate this milestone with Paramount alongside the wonderful fans who’ve loved it for decades, younger generations who still find it relevant today, and those who will discover it for the first time.”

Coppola’s  film adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel chronicles the rise and fall of the Corleone family. In preparation for the 50th anniversary of the first film’s original release on March 24, 1972, Paramount and Coppola’s production company American Zoetrope undertook a painstaking restoration of all three films over the course of three years, using technology that has advanced dramatically since 2007 when the last restoration was completed by eminent film historian and preservationist Robert Harris, according to Paramount. Using that work as a blueprint, the team spent thousands of hours to ensure that every frame was evaluated to create the most pristine presentation while remaining true to the original look and feel of the films, according to the studio.

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The effort included the following:

  • More than 300 cartons of film were scrutinized to find the best possible resolution for every frame of all three films.
  • More than 4,000 hours were spent repairing film stains, tears and other anomalies in the negatives.
  • More than 1,000 hours were spent on rigorous color correction to ensure the high dynamic range tools were respectful of the original vision of Coppola and cinematographer Gordon Willis.
  • In addition to the 5.1 audio approved by Walter Murch in 2007, the original mono tracks on The Godfather and The Godfather Part II have been restored.
  • All work was overseen by Coppola.

 

“We felt privileged to restore these films and a little in awe every day we worked on them,” Andrea Kalas, SVP of Paramount Archives, said in a statement. “We were able to witness first-hand how the brilliant cinematography, score, production design, costume design, editing, performances, and, of course, screenwriting and direction became famously more than the sum of their parts. It was our commitment to honor all of the filmmakers’ exceptional work.”

In addition to the widely available 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray set, a 4K Ultra HD Limited Collector’s Edition will also be released in deluxe packaging and include a hardcover coffee table book featuring photographs, as well as portrait art prints on archival paper. Both 4K Ultra HD sets include new bonus content including an introduction to The Godfather by Coppola, a featurette about the preservation process, photos by acclaimed photographer Steve Schapiro, home movie footage and comparisons of the new restoration to earlier versions of the films. 

Newly restored and remastered versions of The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone will also be available together on Blu-ray with access to digital copies and the new and legacy bonus content.

 

‘Apocalypse Now: Final Cut’ Due in Exclusive Steelbook at Best Buy Oct. 19

Francis Ford Coppola’s definitive cut of his Vietnam masterpiece Apocalypse Now: Final Cut will come out Oct. 19 on 4K Ultra HD Steelbook from Lionsgate, exclusively at Best Buy.

The film is fully restored from the original 1979 film and enhanced with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, as well as Meyer Sound’s Sensual Sound.

Starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and Dennis Hopper, the war epic, in­spired by Joseph Conrad’s story Heart of Darkness, follows Army Capt. Willard (Sheen), a trou­bled man sent on a dangerous odyssey into Cambodia to assassi­nate a renegade American colonel named Kurtz (Brando), who has succumbed to the horrors of war and barricaded himself in a remote outpost.

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The Steelbook features all new artwork from artist Ken Taylor and an intro by Coppola.

Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Outsiders’ Coming to 4K Ultra HD Nov. 9 With Extended Edition

Warner Bros., StudioCanal and American Zoetrope are restoring Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 American coming-of-age drama The Outsiders in 4K and releasing it in an extended edition, The Outsiders: The Complete Novel, theatrically and on 4K Ultra HD disc.

Created to give fans more of the action that took place in S.E. Hinton’s celebrated book, Coppola’s latest, definitive version includes new music, as well as several scenes cut from the theatrical version which were reconstructed from original camera negatives, according to the studio.

Warner Bros. will release The Outsiders: The Complete Novel theatrically in the United States and Canada beginning Sept. 26. Warner Bros. will also make both it and the original version available in a 4K Ultra HD Collector’s Edition and on digital platforms starting Nov. 9. It will be available on HBO Max Nov. 16 and will also air this fall on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

The Outsiders: The Complete Novel came about after meeting students over the years who repeatedly asked me why certain scenes from S.E. Hinton’s wonderful book were missing from the theatrical version,” Coppola said in a statement. “These questions reminded about my inspiration for the film — in 1980, a contingent of 12- to 14-year-old students wrote and asked me to make it. I listened to those young fans back then, and I continue to listen to young people now and believe in their opinions, so this complete film version of the novel is for them.”

Studiocanal is handling the release internationally and will release The Outsiders: The Complete Novel theatrically in the United Kingdom, and will make both it and the original version available in a 4K Ultra HD Collector’s Edition and on Blu-ray, DVD and digital platforms Nov. 8.

Based on the 1967 best-selling young-adult novel by S. E. Hinton, The Outsiders starred then-unknown young actors in many of their first break-through roles, including C. Thomas Howell (E.T. — The Extra-Terrestrial), Rob Lowe (“The West Wing,” “Parks and Recreation”), Emilio Estevez (St. Elmo’s Fire, The Breakfast Club, Young Guns), Matt Dillon (Crash, There’s Something About Mary), Tom Cruise (Top Gun, “Mission: Impossible” series, Jerry Maguire), Patrick Swayze (Dirty Dancing, Point Break, Ghost), Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid, “Cobra Kai”) and Diane Lane (Unfaithful, Under the Tuscan Sun).

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The film takes place in ’60s Oklahoma, centering on two rival teen gangs: the “Greasers,” a class term that refers to the young men on the East Side, the poor side of town, and the “Socs,” short for Socials, who are the “West-side rich kids.” The life of teenager Ponyboy (Howell) is changed forever one night when a scuffle with his friend Johnny (Macchio) inadvertently leads to the death of a rival gang member, and the boys are forced to go into hiding to avoid arrest. Soon Ponyboy and Johnny, along with Dallas (Dillon) and their other Greaser buddies, must contend with the consequences of their violent lives. While some Greasers try to achieve redemption, others meet tragic ends.

“For The Outsiders: The Complete Novel as well as the original theatrical version, we wanted to create and maintain the highest level of visual quality possible for these restorations,” said James Mockoski, film archivist and restoration supervisor at American Zoetrope. “We took the unusual path of locating all the various elements that went into creating the film’s most elaborate visual effects sequences and re-scanned them. Luckily, Mr. Coppola is an archivist at heart and he kept every piece of film he shot, so we were able to unify scenes from the film using the original camera negative as much as possible. It was important to Mr. Coppola to give this release its best quality presentation, and no one has ever seen this film looking as beautiful and pristine as it does now.”

‘Godfather, Coda,’ Season 3 of ‘Yellowstone,’ ‘Honest Thief’ Top Weekly Slate of New Releases

Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone — a new edit and restoration of The Godfather Part III — and season three of the hit TV series “Yellowstone,” both from Paramount Home Entertainment, top the slate of new home releases available beginning Dec. 8.

The week’s slate of new home releases also includes Universal Pictures’ Honest Thief, a drama starring Liam Neeson as a guilt-conscious bank robber who confronts FBI agents wanting to rob him, and the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debuts of two action movies, Total Recall and Collateral. And baseball fans can pick up the highlight film of this year’s World Series won by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The rebranded version of the third and final film in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Godfather” trilogy has been newly restored and re-edited, and the Blu-ray includes an exclusive introduction by Coppola and access to a digital copy of the film.

Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone is an acknowledgment of Mario’s and my preferred title and our original intentions for what became The Godfather Part III,” Coppola said

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Season three of “Yellowstone,” which along with the series’ first two seasons has consistently ranked among the top “Watched at Home” releases, is being released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Dec. 8, along with a limited-edition boxed set of all three seasons on DVD only. (The latter has already sold out on Amazon.)

Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, the popular Paramount Network series stars Kevin Costner and follows the story of a multi-generational family that controls the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. The third-season finale of “Yellowstone” was the most-watched cable telecast of the year, and the top cable telecast since the “Game of Thrones” finale in May 2019.  The show has been renewed for a fourth season on Paramount Network.

Honest Thief also becomes available for home audiences on Dec. 8 through digital retailers only. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will release Honest Thief on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Dec. 29.

Written, directed and produced by Mark Williams, the film stars Liam Neeson as a notorious bank robber who turns himself in after falling in love, only to be double-crossed by a pair of corrupt FBI agents. The merciless agents soon discover there’s nothing more dangerous than an elite criminal mastermind seeking justice. Honest Thief earned $13.5 million at the domestic box office.

Lionsgate will release the 1990 sci-fi classic Total Recall on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for the first time Dec. 8 in celebration of the film’s 30th anniversary. The three-disc combo pack will include the film on both 4K and standard Blu-ray, plus a Blu-ray of additional bonus material. The film has been restored by StudioCanal in 4K from a scan of the original 35mm negative.

Directed by Paul Verhoeven and inspired by the Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, the film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a construction worker on Earth in 2084 whose memory implant of a vacation to Mars awakens the dormant personality of a secret agent involved with revolutionary forces on the red planet. The cast also includes Rachel Ticotin, Michael Ironside, Sharon Stone and Ronny Cox.

A version of the combo pack in Steelbook packaging will be available exclusively at Best Buy.

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Director Michael Mann’s 2004 thriller Collateral arrives in a 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray combo  Dec. 8 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Remastered under the supervision of the director, the new 4K Ultra HD presentation features HDR. The Blu-ray in the combo pack is also remastered.

The film stars Tom Cruise as Vincent, a cool, calculating contract killer at the top of his game. Jamie Foxx received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Max, a cabbie with big dreams and little to show for it.  Max transports Vincent on his next job — one night, five stops, five hits and a getaway. And after the fateful night, neither man will ever be the same.

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Shout! Factory Dec. 8 will release The 2020 World Series, the highlight film of Major League Baseball’s 2020 championship season that saw the Los Angeles Dodgers win the Fall Classic. The film will be narrated by longtime Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, who retired in 2016. It will also be available on the same date digitally, to own and rent from all major platforms.

Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 12/8/20;
Paramount;
Drama;
$22.98 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘R’ for violence and language.
Stars Al Pacino, Andy Garcia, Talia Shire, Sofia Coppola, George Hamilton, Diane Keaton, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, Bridget Fonda, Richard Bright, Donal Donnelly, Raf Vallone.

For his latest trick, director Francis Ford Coppola has taken on the challenge of re-editing the oft-maligned The Godfather Part III into something a bit more palatable for fans of the first two “Godfather” films.

The legendary filmmaker has been busy lately quite literally reimagining his career. Last year saw new edits of Apocalypse Now and Cotton Club hit Blu-ray (in the form of Apocalypse Now: Final Cut and Cotton Club Encore, respectively). Those efforts may have given him the nerve to revisit the concluding film of the “Godfather” saga for its 30th anniversary.

Coppola has trimmed the film by 13 minutes (from 170 minutes to a tighter 157), rearranged a few scenes to improve the main story’s pacing, and reworked the film’s opening and closing scenes. He also reverted the title to what he preferred it to be when he was making it with original “Godfather” novelist and screenwriter Mario Puzo. In calling it a Coda with the subtitle “The Death of Michael Corleone,” Coppola sees the film more along the lines of his original intentions — as an epilogue to the story of the original films.

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In the third movie, set in 1979 and 1980, the aging Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) reflects on his decades in charge of one of America’s most notorious crime families, and continues to strive for the legitimacy he claimed to be pursuing in the first two films, which took place in the 1940s and 1950s. He embarks on a scheme to buy out a European conglomerate partly owned by the Vatican, but runs headlong into church corruption and rivals unwilling to give up the old ways.

The story quite cleverly plays into a few real-life events from the late 1970s and early 1980s, namely the death of Pope John Paul I after just a month after his ascendency, and a church banking scandal — though the script has to massage the actual timeline in order to fit the fictional Corleones into the proceedings.

Coppola’s new vision of the third “Godfather” comes complete with a sumptuous new digital restoration. The Blu-ray presentation of the new version comes devoid of extras save for a minute-and-a-half introduction from Coppola, who basically recounts his reasons for the new edit that were already quoted in Paramount’s press release announcing it.

In terms of the film’s new structure, however, some of the cosmetic changes and the shorter running time make the film a bit easier to handle as a standalone movie, but many of the problems that plagued the film upon its original release aren’t so easy to erase.

The first two “Godfather” films on their own tell an almost perfect circular narrative — the contrast in the rise of power between Vito Corleone and his son, Michael, 30 or so years apart. That they were made within two years of each other — 1972 and 1974 — only deepens the connection between the two films as broader, singular work.

It’s no coincidence, then, that supercuts of the first two films in chronological order were already being broadcast on TV by 1977.

Thus, when the third film, released 16 years after the second, by design focuses solely on Michael’s older years and his attempts to transition the family away from crime, it is only natural to compare it with the original, in which the older Vito also hinted at wanting to go legit after tiring of bloodshed. It is not a comparison that works favorably to Part III, despite its many positive traits.

That inevitable comparison may have been why Coppola was reluctant to make a third film to begin with, and when he finally agreed to do it (after reportedly encountering financial problems due to some of his films underperforming in the 1980s), his instincts told him to make it more of an epilogue to the saga rather than a continuation of it. It was the studio that saddled the film with the Part III moniker, and likely the pressure to make it an epic on the scale of the first two (both of which won Best Picture Oscars).

Interestingly, in recutting the film, Coppola discards the leisurely pacing of the original edit, and the entire ceremony of Michael being honored by the Vatican, by moving the scene of Vatican’s banking representative asking Michael for help to be the new opening scene. This new structure is similar enough to how the first film opens, with the mortician asking Don Vito for help, that the obvious intention is to further explore the parallels between the father and son crime lords. If there’s no way to rework the foundations of the film as a whole to get it to measure up, at least its ambitions as a character study give it weight.

It’s an interesting contrast. Vito’s eldest son, Sonny, is so eager to replace his father as a criminal mastermind that his shortsightedness gets him killed, putting Michael in line to take over the family business, a path Vito never intended. The only ambitions of Michael’s eldest son, Anthony, lead him to becoming an opera singer. With Michael’s daughter, Mary, the lynchpin of his attempts to legitimize, Michael has nowhere to turn but his nephew, Vincent, Sonny’s illegitimate son, to serve as the new Don.

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Coppola’s new ending seems to tread on the subtitle as more of a symbolic notion of the main character’s death, rather than the literal one that seemed tacked onto the original theatrical cut.

The further examination of Michael and his ill-fated attempts to scrub his sins are still the film’s greatest asset, even if Pacino’s portrayal seems more akin to his prototypical ’90s persona than his earlier performances as the character. The film’s most-glaring weakness, however, remains the casting of Sofia Coppola in the key role of Mary. The part had originally been intended for Julia Roberts, who dropped out due to scheduling conflicts, and then Winona Ryder, who left just before production due to nervous exhaustion, leaving the director to cast his own daughter in the role.

On paper, Mary’s pivotal place in Michael’s final arc is clear: She’s the shining beacon who will salvage the family’s legacy, much in the same way Vito originally envisioned Michael, but those expectations are threatened when she literally flirts with the criminal underpinnings of the family business, in the form of her cousin, Vincent (Andy Garcia). A more talented performer would have imbued Mary with a life and vibrance that forces the audience to care about her in a way that elevates the film’s reliance on her character. As much as she evolved into a talented director and screenwriter in her own right, Sofia is just not an actress, and her flat performance serves mostly to distract from the strong inter-generational dynamics between Pacino and Garcia — a criticism leveled as much at the film in 1990 as it is today. Given Mary’s foundational position to the story’s emotional underpinnings, no amount of re-editing can minimize that impact.

However, at least Mary’s arc is there for viewers to interpret. A more fundamental problem for the film is the complete absence of Tom Hagen, Robert Duvall’s character from the first two films who was practically another son to Vito and served as the family’s lawyer. Duvall opted out of the project due to a pay dispute, so Hagen was said to have died offscreen and George Hamilton was brought in to play a new family lawyer in a perfunctory role. Without Duvall, the screenplay was forced to put more emphasis on Vincent and especially Mary.

There’s no telling how much an expanded role for Duvall, with Hagen at the heart of the Corleone moral quandaries, would have elevated the film’s potential to stand alongside its predecessors.