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A Year: Day to Day Men: 15th of March, Solar Year 2018

Early Morning in the Shallow Sea

On March 15, 1972, the film “The Godfather” has its New York City premiere.

“The Godfather” is a 1972 American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola based on Mario Puzo’s best selling novel of the same name. Published in 1969, it became the best selling published work in history for several years. Paramount Pictures originally found out about Puzo’s novel in 1967 when a literary scout for the company contacted then Paramount Vice President of Production Peter Bart about Puzo’s sixty-page unfinished manuscript. Bart believed the work was “much beyond a Mafia story” and offered Puzo a $12,500 option for the work, with an option for $80,000 if the finished work were made into a film. Despite Puzo’s agent telling him to turn down the offer, Puzo was desperate for money and accepted the deal.

Paramount Pictures wanted the film to be directed by an Italian American to make the film “ehnic to the core”. Sergio Leone was Paramount’s first choice to direct: but Leone turned down the option to work on his own gangster film. Paramount had offered twelve other directors the job with “The Godfather” before Coppola agreed. Coppola agreed to receive $125,000 and six percent of the gross rentals.

Coppola’s request to film on location was observed; approximately 90 percent was shot in New York City and its surrounding suburbs, using over 120 unique locations. Several scenes were filmed at the Filmways Studio in East Harlem. The remaining portions were filmed in California, or on-site in Sicily, except for the scenes set in Las Vegas because there were insufficient funds to travel there. Savoca and Forza d’Argro were the Sicilian towns featured in the film. The opening wedding scene was shot in a Staten Island neighborhood using almost 750 locals as extras.

The world premiere for “The Godfather” took place in New York City on March 15, 1972, almost three months after the planned release date of Christmas Day in 1971, with profits from the premiere donated to The Boys Club of New York. Before the film premiered, the film had already made $15 million from rentals from over 400 theaters. The following day, the film opened in New York at five theaters.

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