With Paramount leaving the door open for Godfather 4, here’s why the sequel shouldn’t happen – and it’s not just because of Coppola’s absence.
There are plenty of reasons The Godfather 4 shouldn’t happen, and the likely absence of Francis Ford Coppola is only the tip of that iceberg. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are rightly revered as two examples of near-flawless cinematic greatness. With a stellar cast, a masterful script, and beautiful visuals, the two films came to define gangster movies, and their influence is still felt keenly in the modern era. Made somewhat reluctantly by Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part III failed to hit those same heights. However, the black sheep of the franchise is now getting a new lease of life thanks to The Godfather: Coda – The Death of Michael Corleone. This rejigged version of The Godfather Part III has been edited to better represent Coppola’s original vision.
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The release of The Godfather: Coda has reignited talk of a potential fourth film in the saga, and Paramount has refused to rule out the idea completely. Although the studio admit there are currently no plans for a Godfather continuation, they also claim that another sequel could still happen if a worthy story arose. This isn’t the first time The Godfather 4 has been mooted – Coppola himself began mapping out ideas in the 1990s. The film would’ve been split over two timelines – a prequel exploring the rise of Vito, and a more modern story starring Andy Garcia’s Vincent.
Paramount’s insistence that The Godfather 4 hasn’t been taken off the table will likely come as worrying news for The Godfather fans. Many would assert that the idea of making another Godfather movie shouldn’t just be taken off the table, but thrown out of the nearest window, and then the table burned to a crisp, just for good measure. The first major issue is the unlikely involvement of Francis Ford Coppola. Based on the director’s experience with The Godfather Part III and his previous remarks about continuing the story, Coppola probably won’t be returning for a fourth movie. The idea of a Godfather movie without the legendary director is damn near blasphemous. But the larger concern is the same reason Coppola himself stopped developing The Godfather 4 – the death of Mario Puzo.
Not only did Mario Puzo pen the original The Godfather novel, but he also co-wrote the screenplays for all three movies alongside Coppola. The writer-director duo were working on The Godfather 4 together in the 1990s, but when Puzo passed away in 1999, Coppola effectively laid the Corleone saga to rest with him. If the idea of making a Godfather 4 movie without Coppola is troublesome, pushing ahead without him and Puzo would surely strip away much of what made The Godfather such a special franchise. The Godfather movies were a collaboration of two great artistic talents, and even if they were to be replaced by modern greats for The Godfather 4, the result would either be a homage that recreated the original (think The Force Awakens but with Italian-American accents), or a modern gangster movie that shared little in common with previous installments. Neither sounds tempting.
Paramount could elect to revisit elements of Puzo and Coppola’s early ideas for The Godfather 4, manufacturing an air of legitimacy, but this would risk repeating the mistakes of The Godfather Part III. Although Coppola and Puzo both returned for the third film, Paramount was very much in control (hence the existence of The Godfather: Coda in 2020). The result was a film that paled in comparison to its predecessors, and if a new director takes over the reins and adapts Puzo and Coppola’s initial Godfather 4 concept, the same quality control problems could reemerge, further tarnishing the good name of The Godfather.
While Paramount says The Godfather 4 will only happen if a worthy script materializes, it’s hard to imagine a narrative avenue worth exploring. For all its faults, The Godfather Part III does bring the saga to a conclusive end, with Michael’s death, and the passing of the torch to a new generation. The Godfather was always Michael’s story, and the three films tell a cohesive arc, right up until the crime lord’s lonely demise. Theoretically, Al Pacino, Andy Garcia and Robert De Niro could all still reprise their roles, but to do so would be an exercise in nostalgia rather than an earnest attempt to add something worthwhile to the Godfather tapestry.
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