Woke up this morning, got yourself a gun… "The Sopranos" cut to black on June 10, 2007, in one of the most controversial endings ever to close out a TV show. In the years since, the New Jersey mobsters have been entrenched as television icons, but they have not been seen on screens again. "The Sopranos" is one of the rare smash franchises that hasn’t been tapped for spinoffs, sequels, or as the basis for an extended, interconnected universe.
That latter point is about to change with the release of THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK, a movie that serves as a prequel to the HBO series, from original series creator David Chase. Could it also be the beginning of a new movie series? We'll see! Here's everything you need to know about THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK.
Ten years after "The Sopranos" wrapped, creator David Chase said that he wouldn’t want to continue the series but would be open to creating a prequel. By 2018, HBO and New Line Cinema had committed to a prequel movie to be written by Chase and frequent collaborator (and original "The Sopranos" writer) Lawrence Konner.
At the time of the announcement, New Line's chairman Toby Emmerich said, "David is a masterful storyteller and we, along with our colleagues at HBO, are thrilled that he has decided to revisit and enlarge, the Soprano universe in a feature film." After more than a decade of dormancy (and Chase’s lone feature as a writer/director, 2012’s NOT FADE AWAY), "The Sopranos" was back.
To direct THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK, Chase chose Alan Taylor. If Taylor’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was a director of nine episodes of the original series, as well as of big-budget Hollywood features like THOR: THE DARK WORLD (above) and TERMINATOR: GENYSIS.
With THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK, Taylor will get to combine his experience in television and his background helming major event movies into one delicious package (which probably tastes a lot like a cannoli).
The Story Is Based in Historical Fact
Chase has previously stated that THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK partially centers around the 1967 Newark Riots. The rioting was part of a nationwide explosion of violence that swept the United States during what was later known as the Long Hot Summer of 1967. The Newark Riots lasted for four days and left a staggering 26 people dead and 727 people injured, with almost 1,500 people arrested. Life Magazine immortalized the riots in a series of harrowing photographs, including one of an officer gunning down a Black youth who was suspected of stealing a six-pack from a liquor store.
It’s easy to draw parallels between what happened in 1967 and the riots and protests that erupted in the summer of 2020. And it’ll be fascinating to see how Chase weaves in the crime story into the actual historical event. However it happens, we’ll be fascinated to see how the story plays out.
Young Tony Is Played By Young Gandolfini
Incredibly, Michael Gandolfini, the son of the late, great James Gandolfini, who passed away of a heart attack in 2013, will play Tony Soprano in THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK. In a 2019 Esquire profile, the younger Gandolfini talked about his decision to play the character his father turned into an iconic pop culture creation, stating that he had never actually watched the show before auditioning for the movie. (After he got the gig, he watched the whole thing.)
While this could have been an expert example of stunt casting, by all accounts the younger Gandolfini has turned in a riveting performance as Tony. We can't wait to see him walk in his father's shoes.
The Rest of the Cast Is Awesome
Also included in the impressive cast is Alessandro Nivola as Dickie Moltisanti, the father of Michael Imperioli's original series character Christopher Moltisanti. He acts alongside Vera Farmiga, Jon Berenthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, Leslie Odom Jr, Michela de Rossi, John Magaro, and gangster movie legend Ray Liotta. While their characters are all fairly mysterious right now, some could be characters that connect with the preexisting "Sopranos" mythology.
It Will Play in Theatres!
THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK was originally scheduled to open on September 25, 2020, but with the novel coronavirus still in full effect, the movie was rescheduled for September 24, 2021. (Additional reshoots actually happened in September 2020.) That means that this fall, we’ll finally be in the company of our favorite New Jersey gangsters. And that is pretty exciting indeed.
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All images courtesy of HBO and Marvel Studios.