Don't count out the Corleone family just yet.
A new installment of late author Mario Puzo's Mafia series is in the planning stages at Random House. According to Variety, Paramount Pictures, which is home to the three Godfather movies, will have first dibs on the screen rights.
For the past several months, Random House Trade Group's vice president and senior editor Jonathan Karp has been working out a deal with Puzo's estate, which controls the literary rights to the characters created by the author, to recruit another writer to continue the Corleone family saga. Karp was Puzo's editor when he died in 1999.
Although Karp would not discuss the details, the deal could easily be one of the largest for a sequel based on the work of a deceased author. The Godfather has sold more 22 million copies since it was first published in 1969.
"There is enormous continuing interest in the Corleone family, and a great opportunity to tell a story that could take place before, during or after the original book," Karp told Variety.
"Mario once told me he wished he had done more with Sonny Corleone's character, and there was certainly more opportunity to explore the singer Johnny Fontaine. And Michael Corleone did make an appearance at the beginning and the end of The Sicilian, because he has a relationship with the freedom fighter," he added.
It is not yet known who will write the book, but Karp said he is looking "for a connected author, in the best sense of the word." A decision will not be made until a final selection of story outlines is collected Nov. 4.
"We hope Paramount or some other studio will want to buy the movie rights, and it is our intention to see that happen," Karp said.