One franchise moves forward and another moves backwards in this edition of Sequel Bits. 20th Century Fox, who released the surprise 2009 hit Taken, has just signed on to distribute its sequel, Taken 2, which will once again star Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace and be directed by Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3, the upcoming Colombiana, whose trailer came out today).

Also Mario Puzo, who not only wrote the novel that was the basis for the The Godfather films, but won Oscars along with Francis Ford Coppola for their screenplays, apparently wrote an unproduced prequel script to the series called The Family Corleone. Instead of making it into a movie though (thank god) it’ll soon be turned into a novel due out in stores next year. Read more about both of these projects after the break.

After the first film was a surprise domestic success, everyone knew that Taken 2 was inevitable. However, Variety’s announcement of 20th Century Fox actually signing on to distribute the film gives it the all-important green light. No additional details about plot or schedule have been released but it would be safe to assume the previously rumored start date later this year or early next year would remain intact.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of the new Godfather book. Apparently, Puzo had written a screenplay called The Family Corleone that’s described as follows:

The Family Corleone takes place before the Corleones’ rise to power and tells the story of how young Vito Corleone fought his way through New York’s criminal underworld to become the powerful “Don” introduced in The Godfather.

Sounds kind of like the Robert De Niro stuff in The Godfather Part II, no? Anyway, that screenplay was uncovered and now author Ed Falco will take Puzo’s work and turn it into a novel to be published in June 2012. Here’s how Grand Central Publishing executive vice president Jamie Raab described the project:

Guided by Mario Puzo’s own unproduced screenplay, Ed Falco thrillingly brings back Puzo’s classic characters in a prequel that both honors the original, and stands on its own as a Godfather novel for a new generation of readers.

I’m curious how The Family Corleone would expand on the history that’s already laid out both in Coppola’s films and Puzo’s book. Puzo must have had faith in the story or he wouldn’t have written the screenplay, however, I’m curious if screenplay wasn’t made because he didn’t finish it or because studios weren’t interested?

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