Why Didn’t Paramount Want the Sicily Scenes Shot in ‘The Godfather’?
When it came to taking The Godfather (1972) to the big screen, Paramount Pictures kept things easy. It all started with the purchase of a Mario Puzo novel for $12,500. Puzo, who was in dire need of money at the time, agreed to the offer before completing half of the book.
Robert Evans, the head of Paramount development, knew he had gold on his hands when The Godfather topped national bestseller lists. But that didn’t mean studio executives had to pay director Francis Ford Coppola a large salary.
Similarly, Paramount was able to secure star Marlon Brando — who is still considered one of the world’s most popular actors — for a surprisingly low upfront fee ($50,000). After shooting a lot of footage for the New York-set scenes, Paramount decided to keep it simple by missing the Sicily shoot altogether.
The Godfather’s scenes in Sicily were not included in the budget because Paramount did not want to spend money on them.
Why Francis Ford Coppola was initially turned off by Mario Puzo’s book “The Godfather”
If you’ve ever read about the making of The Godfather, you’ve undoubtedly heard how Coppola’s job was in jeopardy at different points during the film. It began almost immediately, when executives at Paramount began scrutinizing the dailies Coppola had fired.
Even after completing the New York shoot, Coppola’s job was in jeopardy. When it came time to pack up and leave for Sicily, Paramount wondered if they could get on without it. Couldn’t they find a place in the United States to stand in for Italy?
Since Coppola insisted on filming in Sicily, Paramount considered continuing the project without him. Puzo remembered speaking with Evans at the time in The Godfather Papers and Other Confessions. “Evans wanted to know if the Sicilian sequences were really necessary,” Puzo wrote. “I could tell he wanted me to say no. I said yes.”
The calls didn’t stop there. Evans had a Paramount vice president check back with Puzo. “Peter Bart called me and asked if the Sicilian scenes were really necessary. I said yes,” Puzo recalled. “The money people thought, why spend the money when it… This story is a short summary. Hope you enjoyed.