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I was binge-watching The Offer this week and I can't imagine that when they're making The Godfather film in the 70s, the executives have a way different vision for it. It was proposed that it will be set in the 70s not a period film, shot in Kansas or St. Louis, or with a young and cheap director (which they did), actors that can work for cheap or for free, and more. The Godfather as we now know is one of the best American films ever produced and highest grossing film of all time.
There was the Mafia disturbance and interference, sabotage inside the production units, difficult actors and crew members, logistical issues, budget pressures, and other millions of minutiae problems but the logical business mindset clash against the creatives is a major highlight for me. It wouldn't be the Godfather that we know or at least the shadow of that success if it not for the creatives standing up for the authenticity and integrity of the film. It will not be a success if the executives had their way about the logo, the budget, their preferred actors, the locations, and even how it will be marketed and distributed. The dalliance with the Mafia is a film of its own and the way it was handled was, unfortunately the best possible course of action, albeit Machiavellian. The business context set the stage for how these films were supposed to make money that will save Paramount from being sold off to a bargain and leave more for the future viability of its corporate owner.
There are many management lessons here for which this page won't be enough. How ironic it is that film businesses are creative businesses; they are meant to marry the business logic of efficiency and financial performance using the creative breakthrough ideas of their time as a distinct competitive advantage. While these sounds easy to do, the Offer allows to understand that it boils down to how they see themselves as partners of the venture that either had to sink or swim together or get out of the way for the other's success. While in the film the business guys weren't one-dimensional and turned the other leaf, in reality, so many of the films of the past and the present are produced on ruthless business criteria as a hedge for failure. As the audience, we just don't know the costs of these wars inside these organizations. But we know that we have yet to see another Godfather or another film with both smashing commercial success and unparalleled artistry in decades.
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