Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in. Francis Ford Coppola hasn’t directed a new feature film in a few years, but he has gone back to tinker with some old ones. He recently released a recut version of The Cotton Club, and now he’s about to do the same thing with The Godfather Part III. Infamous for being the least-well-received entry in the otherwise fantastic Godfather saga, this new Godfather III cut, which goes by the somewhat clunky title Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone, is headed to theaters and digital platforms this December.

Let’s get this out of the way: The Godfather Part III isn’t that bad. But it’s also not that good, either. While the third and final entry in Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather trilogy is often held up as an example of something terrible, I’m here to tell you the movie is a lot better than its reputation suggests. That said, it still has a lot of problems – particularly the performance of Sofia Coppola, who, in fairness, didn’t have much time to prepare for the role, since she took over at the last minute after Wiona Ryder dropped out.

Yet while Godfather III is better than its reputation suggests, it could also stand to be better. And it looks like Francis Ford Coppola agrees, because he’s gone back and recut the film into something called Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone (Trivia: The Death of Michael Corleone was originally what Coppola wanted to title the film’s theatrical release, but Paramount didn’t like that idea).

Paramount says this new cut “achieves director/screenwriter Coppola and screenwriter Puzo’s original vision for the finale, which has been meticulously restored for the finest presentation of the Corleone saga’s last chapter.” Coppola adds:

Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone  is an acknowledgement of Mario’s and my preferred title and our original intentions for what became The Godfather: Part III. For this version of the finale, I created a new beginning and ending, and rearranged some scenes, shots, and music cues. With these changes and the restored footage and sound, to me, it is a more appropriate conclusion to The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II and I’m thankful to Jim Gianopulos and Paramount for allowing me to revisit it.”

Coppola and his production company American Zoetrope worked from a 4K scan of the original negative to “undertake a painstaking, frame-by-frame restoration” of both he new cut and the original Godfather Part III. The process took more than six months and “involved sifting through 300 cartons of negative.” American Zoetrope also restored “scratches, stains, and other anomalies that could not be addressed previously due to technology constraints, while enhancements were made to the original 5.1 audio mix.”

Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone will have a limited theatrical release in December, followed by availability on Digital home entertainment platforms and on disc. Stay tuned for official dates.

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