Mario Puzo's Mafia potboiler was Paramount's big hope for a hit, if only they could find the right stars and director.
Producer Robert Evans pushed for Francis Ford Coppola, not the studio's preferred choice as director. And then once he was in, Coppola pushed for unknowns (Al Pacino) and washed-up, troublesome stars (Marlon Brando) in the lead roles, giving Paramount headaches and heartburn.
Did It Pay Off?:
As William Goldman famously says about Hollywood, nobody knows anything. Audiences flocked to Coppola's family-sized epic, the Academy gave it Best Picture and two sequels (one classic, one underrated) followed.