We assume that when some studio executive first read the script for The Godfather or Seven Samurai, his eyes turned into cartoon dollar signs. Surely everyone must have known they struck gold with titles like those, right? Not always. In fact, plenty of cinema classics were treated like refried dog shit by the very people making them ...
6 The Godfather Exists Only Because The Author Needed Cash
Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather changed everything: It is the definitive mafia flick, plus it saved one guy from having his legs broken with a baseball bat. That guy was Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather book.
via The New School History Project
And possibly Danny DeVito's real father.
Back in 1968, Puzo was in the hole for $10,000 to his bookie, and he hoped to pay it off by selling the rights to his unfinished novel -- of which he had about 60 pages -- to a Paramount executive he met through a friend. The man bought the option "more out of pity than excitement," and immediately forgot about it ... until Puzo finished The Godfather and it became a best-seller. After that, Paramount was suddenly excited about the novel and eager to shoot a film adaptation of it, a feeling that nobody else shared.
Except marionette salesmen.
For starters, no director wanted to touch it, especially Coppola, who hated The Godfather book because of its graphic sex scenes. He only took the job because his own studio was in massive debt (seeing a pattern here?). Bankruptcy started to sound kind of appealing after Coppola started work, only to find he was constantly disrespected by his own film crew, and he even had to fake a heart attack to convince the studio to let him cast Marlon Brando in the title role. At the same time, the actual mafia was trying to convince Paramount to shut down production of the movie by shooting out a producer's car windows. Come on, they couldn't have the movie tarnish their stellar reputation by painting them as a bunch of violent thugs.
5 Blazing Saddles Was Initially Released In Only Three Cinemas Across The Country
It's been said that you couldn't make a Mel Brooks movie today, but the truth is you could barely make a Mel Brooks movie back when Mel Brooks was making Mel Brooks movies. Just look at his classic comedy western, Blazing Saddles. First, Brooks himself once quit the production because Warner Bros. wouldn't let him cast Richard Pryor in the main role. After he got over that and finally test-screened the movie for dozens of studio executives in 1975, the feedback from 15 of them was that Blazing Saddles was un-releasable and that they should just write off the $2 million they had already spent on it.
Half of which went to the bean budget.
Two studio execs stood up for Brooks and offered to do a test release in one theater each in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. After one of those screenings, the president of Warner Bros. shoved a notebook into Brooks' hand and told him to write down all the changes that needed to be made to the piece of shit he was being forced to release, most notably: taking out the N-word. Brooks agreed to the demands until the president left, at which point he tossed all the notes in the garbage can, thus saving comedy history.