The Godfather Is Heading Back To Theaters In 4K

Just when you thought you were out, "The Godfather" pulls you back in. It's been almost a full half-century since Francis Ford Coppola's mob epic, widely considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time, first came to movie theaters. After premiering in New York, "The Godfather" went into wide release in the U.S. on March 24, 1972. It's one of the all-time greats, yet there's a whole generation of moviegoers who never got the chance to see it on the big screen.

All that will change next year, as Coppola has announced that a new 4K restoration of "The Godfather" is bound for theaters in 2022. This news (via Collider) comes out of the Paramount Pictures panel at Brazil's Comic Con Experience, otherwise known as CCXP. Right now, it's not quite clear if the theatrical release of "The Godfather" will only be a limited engagement in a few select cities, or if Paramount will be doing a larger rollout, though I'd wager the former is probably more likely.

In addition to being an endlessly quotable classic with instantly recognizable music themes, "The Godfather" won Best Picture at the 45th Academy Awards, while Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall were all nominated for their performances as members of the Corleone crime family. Brando won, but amid the Second Wounded Knee siege in 1973, he famously declined the award in protest of Hollywood's depiction of Native Americans. Coppola, meanwhile, was almost fired from "The Godfather" during its production, but he was also nominated for Best Director and would go on to win for "The Godfather Part II."

A New and Improved Restoration

Coppola has recut, repackaged, and/or restored "The Godfather" films several times before, starting with "The Godfather Saga," his 1977 TV miniseries stitching the first two films together in chronological order. In 2008, he released "The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration" on DVD and Blu-Ray, and just last year, we saw a new version of "The Godfather Part III," retitled, "The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone."

This new and improved restoration of the first film should showcase unparalleled image quality ahead of the inevitable 4K trilogy box set. Maybe you're of the age that you first discovered "The Godfather" streaming somewhere. Or maybe you're an older cat like me who first discovered it on VHS, back when they had it split across two tapes because they couldn't fit a whole three-hour movie on one. My local library had the gold 25th-anniversary slipcase on hand, and I remember checking it out after the American Film Institute aired its list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time on CBS.

"The Godfather" ranked #3 on that list and #2 on the AFI's 10th-anniversary update in 2007. But let's be honest: in terms of sheer entertainment value, Coppola's film probably has much more crowd-pleaser appeal than "Citizen Kane."

The 4K restoration of "The Godfather" doesn't have a release date yet, but if they time it to run with the 50th anniversary, then it could be in theaters again as early as next March. If you live near a theater where it's playing and have never seen "The Godfather" with dust motes swirling overhead in the light of a projection room, this could be your chance.