Paramount to Reissue Third ‘Godfather’ Film With New Edit, Restoration

Paramount Pictures Sept. 3 announced it will release a new edit and restoration of Francis Ford Coppola’s third and final film in his epic “Godfather” trilogy, The Godfather Part III.

The rebranded Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, Paramount says, “achieves director/screenwriter Coppola and screenwriter Puzo’s original vision for the finale, which has been meticulously restored for the finest presentation of the Corleone saga’s last chapter.”

The 1990 release of the third film was maligned by critics as not living up to the standard set by the first two films in the franchise, which won the Oscar for Best Picture for the 1972 and 1974 movie years, respectively. The new version of the third film will have a limited theatrical release in December, followed by availability through digital retailers and on disc.

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 in a statement. “For this version of the finale, I created a new beginning and ending, and rearranged some scenes, shots and music cues. With these changes and the restored footage and sound, to me, it is a more appropriate conclusion to The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, and I’m thankful to Jim Gianopulos and Paramount for allowing me to revisit it.”

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Coppola’s three-part movie adaptation of Puzo’s novel chronicles the rise and fall of the Corleone mob family. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, The Godfather Part III was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film follows Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) in his 60s as he seeks to free his family from crime and find a suitable successor to his empire.

Coppola and his production company American Zoetrope worked from a 4K scan of the original negative to undertake a frame-by-frame restoration of both the new Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone and the original The Godfather Part III. Zoetrope and Paramount’s restoration team began by searching for more than 50 original takes to replace lower-resolution opticals in the original negative. This process took more than six months and involved sifting through 300 cartons of negative.  American Zoetrope worked diligently to repair scratches, stains, and other anomalies that could not be addressed previously due to technology constraints, while enhancements were made to the original 5.1 audio mix. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, midway through the project all work — even the search for the negative — shifted to the San Francisco Bay area and Los Angeles and was completed remotely.

“Mr. Coppola oversaw every aspect of the restoration while working on the new edit, ensuring that the film not only looks and sounds pristine, but also meets his personal standards and directorial vision,” said Andrea Kalas, SVP of Paramount Archives.

Additional details about the theatrical and home entertainment releases will be provided at a later date, Paramount says.

On Rotten Tomatoes, The Godfather Part III has a 69% favorable rating from critics and a 78% favorable rating from audiences. This compares to 98% for The Godfather from both segments and 98% from critics and 97% from audiences for The Godfather Part II.

 

‘The Cotton Club’ Gets an Encore

Francis Ford Coppola’s lavish 1930s mob musical is getting another moment in the spotlight 35 years later with The Cotton Club Encore.

Coppola’s new cut of the troubled 1984 production arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Dec. 10, featuring exclusive new bonus material, from Lionsgate. The cut adds 24 minutes and deletes 13 from the original, allowing the original theme of two characters caught up in music and the mob — one white and one black — to be more fully realized. The new version also reinstates stories about the African-American performers who lit up the real-life Jazz Age nightclub during desperate times.

Actress Lonette McKee’s rendition of Ethel Waters’ “Stormy Weather” was added to the new cut.

The film stars Richard Gere, long before he won a Golden Globe in another movie musical set in the 1930s, Chicago, and the late Gregory Hines (1992 Tony Award, Best Actor in a Musical, Jelly’s Last Jam), whose extended performance with his brother Maurice Hines is one of the highlights of the new cut. Diane Lane, Lonette McKee, Bob Hoskins, James Remar, Laurence Fishburne, Nicolas Cage, Jennifer Grey and Tom Waits also star. McKee’s rendition of Ethel Waters’ “Stormy Weather” and Coppola’s originally envisioned ending also are part of the additions.

In the film, Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club becomes a hotbed of passion and violence as the lives and loves of entertainers and gangsters collide. While the 1984 version centered on Gere’s character, Coppola meant for it to be a story of his and Hines’ character navigating life in and around the Cotton Club with their families. During post-production, the film was condemned as too long, and, according to some stakeholders, as having “too many black people” and “too much tap dancing.” Coppola was pressured to minimize Hines’ character and lose many musical numbers.

Along with his team at American Zoetrope, Coppola set out to create an updated version that would more closely resemble the original intentions of the film.

“I and my company American Zoetrope set about the daunting task to find the more than 30 minutes of lost negative, in some cases restoring it from old print material, and to restore, remix and allow this film to re-emerge in a new and worthy edition,” said Coppola. “This is The Cotton Club Encore, the film the world should have seen despite the countless court cases, murder trial proceedings and warring producers.”

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Coppola spent half a million dollars to restore the film.

“I’d always been discouraged about The Cotton Club, and it didn’t seem to blossom in the way I might have hoped,” Coppola told Vanity Fair.

He faced conflicts with a former Paramount chief and Hollywood legend, the late Robert Evans, as well as growing costs, infighting and even a murder. One of the film’s financiers was kidnapped and killed.

“There was a murder; there were lawsuits. And after all this stuff the movie itself was an anti-climax,” Coppola told Vanity Fair. “But I wanted to say, in a way, that we survived all that, and this is the way the movie should have been seen.”

Special features include:

  • Introduction to The Cotton Club Encore by Francis Ford Coppola
  • The Cotton Club Encore Q&A

‘Apocalypse Now Final Cut’ Screening

Lionsgate held a screening for Apocalypse Now Final Cut to mark the 40th anniversary of the war film at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome in Hollywood Aug. 12. Apocalypse Now Final Cut will be released in select Imax theaters Aug. 15 and 18, followed by region­al theaters Aug. 23 from NAGRA myCinema, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (two 4K discs, four Blu-ray discs and a digital copy) and digital 4K Ultra HD (for the first time ever) Aug. 27 featuring new special features from Li­onsgate.

(L-R): Glenn Morten, VP of strategy and solutions at Nagra myCinema; actor Martin Sheen; director Francis Ford Coppola; and Lionsgate president of worldwide home entertainment Ron Schwartz. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

‘Apocalypse Now’ 40 Years Later

The acclaimed Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now has been a saga in more ways than one, plagued by a change of lead ac­tors from Harvey Keitel to Mar­tin Sheen, a typhoon in the Phil­ippines and Sheen’s heart attack during filming, critical and skeptical press, and multiple edits.

But this month for its 40th anniversary director Francis Ford Coppola re­leases what he considers his “final cut.”

Apocalypse Now Final Cut will be released in select Imax theaters Aug. 15 and 18, followed by region­al theaters Aug. 23 from NAGRA myCinema, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (two 4K discs, four Blu-ray discs and a digital copy) and digital 4K Ultra HD (for the first time ever) Aug. 27 featuring new special features from Li­onsgate. The release includes Dolby Vision HDR and Dol­by Atmos audio. In addition, the film has been enhanced with Meyer Sound Labo­ratories’ newly developed Sensual Sound, a technology engineered to output audio below the limits of human hearing. It’s all to realize the best version of the film. “A lot of the things that we did to truncate the movie I put back in this version,” said Coppola in a Q&A shot at the Tribeca Film Festival in April with director Steven Soder­bergh that is part of the extras.

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As for the problems that beset the production, doc­umented in the award-winning Hearts of Darkness (also included in the extras with footage shot during filming by Coppola’s wife, Eleanor), Coppola told So­derbergh, “In filmmaking and in life, extraordinary things happen to you, and it’s up to you to make them be positive.”

Brando

Restored from the original negative for the first time ever, Apocalypse Now Fi­nal Cut is Coppola’s most realized version of the film, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards, won three Golden Globes and is one of AFI’s top 100 films. Starring Sheen, Marlon Bran­do, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hop­per, Laurence Fishburne and Harrison Ford, 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.

Duvall

“I had this idea to do it like The Guns of Navarone, some extraor­dinary, big World War II movie,” Coppola told Soderbergh. “The irony is that the movie took on its own life, became stranger and more surreal, and in a sense, I think it went in a direction correct for that issue — because the Viet­nam War was very strange.”

The very innovative nature of the film made Coppola cautious and worried. He decided to release a “work in progress” of the film at the Cannes Film Festival to allay critics who were calling it a disas­ter. It ended up winning the Palme d’Or triumph at the festival in 1979 (shared with The Tin Drum).

His caution resulted in a truncated cut of the film that he later expanded in the 2001 release Apocalypse Now Redux. But this is his ultimate cut.

“I realized that I wanted to make a version that I like,” Coppola said in the introduction to Final Cut included in the extras. “It was longer than the 1979 version but shorter than Apocalypse Now Redux, and it’s the one that I recommend to you and it’s the one that is my favorite.”

The 40th anniversary release features multiple archival and new special features, including the film’s theatrical cut and extended cut (Redux), as well as the acclaimed Hearts of Darkness documentary:

 

4K UHD SPECIAL FEATURES

DISC ONE

  • NEW: Introduction to Final Cut by Francis Ford Coppola

 

DISC TWO

  • Audio Commentary by Director Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now Redux)

 

DISC THREE

  • An Interview with screenwriter John Milius
  • A Conversation with Martin Sheen and Francis Ford Coppola
  • “Fred Roos: Casting Apocalypse” Featurette
  • The Mercury Theatre on the Air: Heart of Darkness – November 6, 1938
  • “The Hollow Men” Featurette
  • Monkey Sampan “Lost Scene”
  • Additional Scenes
  • “Destruction of the Kurtz Compound” End Credits (with Non-Optional Audio Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola)
  • “The Birth of 5.1 Sound” Featurette
  • “Ghost Helicopter Flyover” Sound Effects Demonstration
  • “The Synthesizer Soundtrack” Article by Bob Moog
  • “A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • “Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • “The Final Mix” Featurette
  • “2001 Cannes Film Festival: Francis Ford Coppola” Featurette
  • “PBR Streetgang” Featurette
  • “The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • Disc Credits

 

DISC FOUR

  • Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (with Optional Audio Commentary by Francis and Eleanor Coppola)
  • NEW: Tribeca Film Festival Q&A with Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Soderbergh
  • NEW: Super 8mm Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • NEW: “Dutch Angle: Chas Gerresten & Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • NEW: “Apocalypse Now: A Forty Year Journey” Featurette
  • NEW: “Sensual Sound Technology from Meyer Sound” Featurette
  • John Milius Script Excerpt with Francis Coppola Notes (Still Gallery)
  • Storyboard Collection
  • Photo Archive

–            Unit Photography

–            Mary Ellen Mark Photography

  • Marketing Archive

–            1979 Teaser Trailer

–            1979 Theatrical Trailer

–            1979 Radio Spots

–            1979 Theatrical Program

–            Lobby Card and Press Kit Photos

–            Poster Gallery

–            Apocalypse Now Redux Trailer

 

DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary by Director Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now Redux)

Paramount Has Western, War, Classic and Action Titles for Father’s Day

Paramount Home Entertainment has announced gift ideas for Father’s Day, June 16.

For the Western fan, the studio has True Grit, starring John Wayne in his only Oscar-winning performance. The film, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, is available on digital. Also for the Western fan is the Ultimate Classic Western Collection, with nine classics, True Grit (1969), The Shootist, Shane, Hud, Chuka, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Will Penny, Johnny Reno and Posse, available on DVD.

For war buffs is Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, available on 4K Ultra HD, as well as 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, available on 4K Ultra HD June 11.

For the classic film lover is Best Picture Academy Award winner Forrest Gump, celebrating its 25 anniversary this year, available in a newly remastered two-disc Blu-ray and on 4K Ultra HD. Also, due on Blu-ray June 11 is The Godfather Trilogy: Corleone Legacy, a collection of director Francis Ford Coppola’s epic masterpieces packaged with new collectibles, including a Corleone family tree. Another classic collection available now on DVD is the Paul Newman 6-Movie Collection, with Road to Perdition, Fat Man and Little Boy, Nobody’s Fool, A New Kind of Love and Twilight.

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Available now on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray for action fans is the Mission: Impossible 6-Movie Collection. Also available now on Blu-ray in the action genre is the Bumblebee & Transformers Collection, a six-movie collection that includes all five “Transformers” films plus the latest entry in the franchise, Bumblebee. Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Season One, the first season in the new series that is a contemporary take on Clancy’s character, will be available on Blu-ray and DVD June 4.

Tucker: The Man and His Dream

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Lionsgate;
Drama;
$14.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG.’
Stars Jeff Bridges, Martin Landau, Joan Allen, Frederick Forrest.

Aptly and often characterized as a screen biography with direct applications to its director’s own life and psyche, Tucker: The Man and His Dream is the one Francis Ford Coppola movie made after Apocalypse Now that ranks with my FFC favorites. My overriding concern about this new Blu-ray release was whether or nor it would do justice to the picture’s electric pigments — and not just with the cars that are its heart and soul but even in day-to-day household scenes that include some out in the Tucker family barn. The result turns out to be (for a $14.99 list price) one of the most gorgeous Blu-rays I’ve ever seen of a movie made after the three-strip Technicolor era. As its standout visuals go, this is Vittorio Storaro, baby, photographing resplendent paint and wax jobs beyond Earl Scheib’s wildest dreams.

Preston Tucker was the imaginative but brazenly cheeky-to-a-fault dreamer who tried unsuccessfully (aside from moral victories and even one in court) to ruffle the auto industry’s Big Three. He, unlike them, wanted to serve returning veterans who were looking for what his advertising termed the “Car of Tomorrow — Today.” And compared with the tank-like clunkers we see every day chugging down MGM backlot streets on Turner Classic Movies, the Tucker was a handsome structure. Coppola says on the disc’s bonus extras that as a kid whose not particularly flush father invested some money in the enterprise, it looked to him like a rocket ship.

Beyond the cool design, which featured the engine in back and luggage compartment in the front, it was full of safety innovations. You know: really crackpot ones like padded dashboard, pop-out windows to minimize the damage of wrecks, and seatbelts. (As late as 1958 or ’59 in my own experience, I can remember a cousin-by-marriage who sold car seatbelts for a living, and every family member, behind his back, thought, “tee-hee” and “isn’t that cute?”) Detroit, like today’s movies, simply followed what it thought the public wanted to the exclusion of all else. More than one observer has drawn a correlation between the rise of oversized fins and taillights and Jayne Mansfield’s emergence as a star.

Coppola, of course, once had his own ideas about how movies should be made and distributed, and his heavy personal losses when One From the Heart tried to buck the Hollywood system forced him into becoming a sometimes uninspired for-hire filmmaker who, let it be said, also makes wine that I really like. With George Lucas as executive producer and some magic that made a $24 million budget look like more, Tucker was the realization of a dream project that Coppola had once envisioned as, of all things, a collaborative musical endeavor with Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

Jeff Bridges plays Tucker as an eternal optimist, and it’s a role that comes naturally to him — a guy prone to temper fits that last about five seconds before returning to the mostly perennial smile that’s his way of facing by-the-minute challenges (only 51 Tuckers got made). The movie feels totally fanciful, but a consistent directorial vision throughout makes it work against the odds; Coppola claims on the bonus commentary here that at least in broad-stroke terms, the incidents portrayed stick fairly close to real events. Well, maybe, but the movie would still play like a dream (Tucker’s or the filmmaker’s) even if they didn’t.

The villains here are the colluding auto companies, the slick silver-hairs in Tucker’s boardroom who want to substitute their own product vision, and Michigan Sen. Homer Ferguson — the person who later wrote the original bill that shoehorned “under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance when I was in second grade and is here played by Jeff’s real-life papa Lloyd Bridges. As the movie’s standout heavy, the Ferguson we see here recalls Alan Alda’s slimy portrayal of Maine Sen. Owen Brewster in The Aviator, even though it’s hard to claim that Brewster was totally out of line for feeling a little weary when it came to Howard Hughes. I always wonder what it must be like for descendants of these sharks (Brewster was a Joe McCarthy acolyte) to see gramps portrayed so repulsively by filmmakers with the stature of Coppola and Scorsese.

Joan Allen has always come off as a submerged dish to me, and one of the things I like most here — and this is, no doubt, fanciful — is the way Mrs. Tucker always seems to be decked out in seducto-duds of one kind of another when entering and exiting her scenes in the French farce known as the Tucker home. It’s complete with a blur of children, eternally stressed designers and mechanics (Frederick Forest, Mako, Elias Koteas) and dogs. Christian Slater plays one of the kids, and he barely looks old enough to get hired at the Dairy Queen.

In 1988, a great movie summer where paying customers also more or less ignored The Last Temptation of Christ, Bull Durham, Running on Empty, Clean and Sober, Married to the Mob, Labor Day’s Eight Men Out (and I could go on), Tucker underperformed but did spur renewed interest in the cars themselves, most of which were still runnable at the time of its release and sold in the collectors’ market for prices that only folks like Lucas or Coppola could afford. As a Blu-ray, the movie is something of a demo model for tank-sized home screens. Beyond Coppola’s intro and voiceover, it also comes equipped with a making-of featurette and a 1948 promotional film for the car that Coppola modified and used as the basis of Tucker’s opening scene.

Mike’s Picks: ‘Tucker: The Man and His Dream’ and ‘Village of the Damned’