The famous movie classic The Godfather, as well as the two sequels, were produced by Paramount Pictures. They acquired the copyrights from the author of the book “The Godfather”, Mario Puzo.
According to Paramount it was agreed, in 1969, that they (Paramount) were granted “the sole and exclusive right to make and cause to be made literary and dramatic and other versions and adaptations of every kind and character.”
But after Puzo dies, his estate has been executed by his son Anthony Ruzzo. Ruzzo agreed with Paramount in 2002 that they purportedly allowed the Puzo estate to grant publisher Random House the right to publish one – “but only one” – sequel novel: “The Godfather Returns”.
And here is were it gets interesting: Ruzzo decided to allow a second sequel: “The Godfather’s Revenge”. Paramount even believes Ruzzo is even preparing a third sequel “The Family Corleone”, and went to court to stop this.
The court handling the dispute is going to have to examine timing of authorship to see if the screenplay from which the novel was adapted is outside the original copyright grant or if the novel is merely the adaptation of a work completed by the original rights holder that is covered under the grant of rights to Paramount.
If this law suit gets ugly, the parties should beware of getting into bed at night; there might be a horse’s head in there.