DiCaprio is salvaged from the `Titanic' to play The Godfather

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A FOURTH instalment of the Mafia epic The Godfather is planned after the director Francis Ford Coppola and writer Mario Puzo began talks last month with the Paramount studio .

The new film is planned to star Leonardo DiCaprio and Andy Garcia, who will resurrect his role of Vincent Mancini, son of Sonny Corleone, from The Godfather III. Al Pacino, who has starred in all the films so far and whose character died at the end of the last film, has not yet been signed up, and the film's plot may require that it is the first film in the series to be made without him.

Little is known about the planned storyline, but it is believed that Puzo and Coppola favour returning to the "flashback" style that was used in The Godfather II - the most critically acclaimed film of the series which starred Robert De Niro and Pacino as characters from different generations.

It has been proposed that DiCaprio could play a young Sonny Corleone, thereby becoming Andy Garcia's father and the two actors would never appear in the same scene.

The first film, made in 1972 was a worldwide hit and critically lauded. The second film followed just two years later and was equally well received. The franchise then lay untouched for 16 years and the third attempt was less well received by both by audiences and critics.

Coppola was particularly criticised for using his own inexperienced daughter, Sofia Coppola, to play one of the major characters in the film, and her performance was widely derided.

News of The Godfather IV was reported in the film industry magazine, Hollywood Reporter, which claims that Paramount and Coppola have been trying to agree a new film deal for five years.

Andy Garcia, who is a friend of both Coppola and DiCaprio, is credited with being the force behind the new film.