Godfather author's estate wins game suit
Paramount ordered to pay family of Mario Puzo share of earnings from Electronic Arts games based on novel-inspired crime films.
According to the NPD Group, Electronic Arts' multiplatform Godfather game has sold about 1.28 million copies in the US since its release in 2006, generating nearly $50 million. Now, one week after The Godfather II was postponed to later in the year, a sizable chunk of the original game's gross was awarded to the family of Mario Puzo, author of the Godfather novels.
According to the AFP news service, a $1 million lawsuit filed last summer by Anthony Puzo on behalf of the estate of his father, who died in 1999, ended with the plaintiffs receiving an undisclosed sum. The defendant was not EA, but rather film studio Paramount Pictures, which distributed the 1972 film adaptation of Puzo's 1969 novel. Puzo the elder cowrote the screenplay of the first Godfather film, which won an Academy Award for Best Picture, as well as its two sequels, the first of which also won the top Oscar.
In his suit, the younger Puzo claimed Paramount violated a 1992 agreement to share revenues from audiovisual products based on the Godfather films with the author and his estate. Paramount had licensed the Godfather brand to EA in 2005, which developed the decently reviewed game in-house.
"We think it's a terrific settlement," Puzo estate attorney Bert Fields told the AFP. "This involved one of the most admired films of all time."
The Puzo estate wasn't the only party angered by the Godfather game. The film trilogy's director, filmmaker-turned-vintner Francis Ford Coppola, loudly voiced his disapproval after the game's announcement in 2005. However, EA had no problem hiring several of the film's stars, including Robert Duvall and James Caan, to lend their voices to the game. EA also made recordings of the late Marlon Brando before his death, but noise from a breathing tube forced EA to redo the audio with a voice actor.
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