Francis Ford Coppola Calls His Greatest Movie A Mistake

Francis Ford Coppola considers The Godfather: Part 2 to be a mistake, made only for money and undermining the legacy of the original simply by existing.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

Robert de Niro in The Godfather: Part 2

Francis Ford Coppola is a Hollywood icon and one of the greatest directors of all time, but he still considers The Godfather: Part 2 a mistake, and while most fans would argue it’s the best sequel ever made, he’s got a good reason. Far Out Magazine reported on his feelings about the sequel, which wasn’t bound by the first film’s red tape and studio involvement, but instead represented a different problem. In Coppola’s opinion, a sequel reduced the original film’s importance, influence, and legacy, which is why he insists that making it was a mistake.

The Godfather was a critical and commercial success upon its release in 1972, immediately making mob movies a form of high art and paving the way for Goodfellas, The Sopranos, and Boardwalk Empire. Featuring an all-star cast of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Abe Vigoda, Diane Keaton, Richard Conte, and former real-life Mob enforcer Lenny Montana, one of the greatest films of all time almost never happened thanks to Paramount attempting to wrest control from Coppola.

Francis Ford Coppola didn’t want to make The Godfather: Part 2, but a need for money led him to quickly turn around and make the greatest sequel of all time (yes, it’s better than Empire Strikes Back). Creative people have compromised their vision before, with the famous example of Michael Caine accepting $1.4 million to star in Jaws 4: The Revenge, and if that’s why one of the greatest crime films of all time was made, then so be it. Yet Coppola, a visionary director, insists to this day that “there should have only been one.”

Al Pacino in The Godfather: Part 2

The Godfather: Part 2 was Robert De Niro’s breakout role as Vito Corleone and brought back most of the cast from the first film in a plot that cut between the past and the film’s present. At the time, critics were split, with some agreeing with Coppola that it was inferior to the original, while others praised it for rising above the impressive first movie. Within a few years, The Godfather: Part 2 was already being hailed as one of the greatest films of all time.

Yet, because of the success of the sequel, in 1990, The Godfather: Part 3 was made, which Francis Ford Coppola considers an epilogue to The Godfather: Part 2. To most fans, Part 3 was an atrocity that tarnished the first two despite being nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. In an attempt to show the death of Michael Corleone, Coppola’s trilogy ender followed the mobster’s long, slow descent from the height of his power and fortune.

Landing the ending to a mafia story is always difficult, with even The Sopranos dropping the ball at the very end, and if one of the greatest directors of all time can’t make it work, what hope is there for everyone else? While Francis Ford Coppola thinks The Godfather: Part 2 was a mistake for undermining the original, Part 3 is the worst part of the highly acclaimed, award-winning trilogy.