HBO Developing 'Godfather' Behind-the-Scenes Movie

Marlon Brando, Francis Ford Coppola on the set of ‘The Godfather,’ 1972 (Photo: Rex)
Marlon Brando, Francis Ford Coppola on the set of ‘The Godfather,’ 1972 (Photo: Rex)

By Daniel Holloway, Variety

HBO Films is developing Francis & the Godfather, a scripted movie that chronicles the making of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 feature adaptation of the novel by Mario Puzo. The script hails from screenwriter Andrew Farotte, who is revising his original screenplay that appeared on the 2015 Black List.

Mike Marcus, Doug Mankoff, and Andrew Spaulding will serve as executive producers on the film. Peter Bart, who as an executive at Paramount first optioned Puzo’s novel and worked closely with Robert Evans and Coppola, will serve as a consultant. Echo Lake Entertainment is producing.

Francis & the Godfather tells the behind-the-scenes story of the film’s creation, from Coppola joining the project to the casting of Al Pacino and Marlon Brando to dealings with the real-life New York mafia. The project is part of an ongoing push into television by Echo Lake, which in 2014 brought in former A&E executive Chris Davis to head TV development.

Released in 1972, The Godfather is largely regarded as one of the greatest feature films in American history. In 1973, the film won Academy Awards for best picture, for best actor (Brando), and for adapted screenplay (Puzo and Coppola).

In a 1972 review for Variety, A.D. Murphy hailed The Godfather as a breakout for Pacino, writing, “It is Pacino, last seen (by too few) in Panic in Needle Park, who makes the smash impression here. Initially seen as the son whom Brando wanted to go more or less straight (while son James Caan was to become part of the organization), Pacino matures under the trauma of an assassination attempt on Brando, his own double-murder revenge for that on corrupt cop Sterling Hayden and rival gangster Al Lettieri, the counter-vengeance murder of his Sicilian bride, and a series of other personnel readjustments which at fadeout find him king of his own mob.”