46 years ago on the Friday before Christmas in 1974, Paramount Pictures released The Godfather Part II in theatres across America. The film’s release was eagerly anticipated both by the public and the industry, coming less than two years after the sensation Francis Ford Coppola had created with The Godfather. Part II is widely regarded as the best sequel in film history, perhaps even greater than the original.
Both films won Academy Awards for Best Picture, remaining the only original/sequel combination to have done so. The second chapter in The Godfather saga came out at a time of transition for the film industry. In the exhibition, single-screen movie theatres in downtown and main street locations were failing due to a general relocation of populations to the suburbs.
They had not yet been replaced by the multi-screen Cineplexes which were just beginning to emerge, led by exhibitors such as AMC and General Cinema. In Hollywood, the traditional studio system was collapsing, with the fading appeal of tried and true genres such as Westerns and Musicals. Control of studios was being transferred from the aging movie moguls to corporate raiders such as Transamerica and Gulf + Western. Coppola emerged as a leader of a new generation of filmmakers and actors and actresses who created the films that pointed the way for the next 50 years of filmmaking.
“My father taught me many things here, he taught me in this room. He taught me… keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” – Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II
See also: Newly Re-edited, The Godfather: Part III Is the Masterpiece It Already Was – Richard Brody from the New York Times