TV Critic’s Corner

What you need to know about ‘The Sopranos’ prequel

From left: James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, and Robert Iler in “The Sopranos.”
Craig Blankenhorn/HBO
From left: James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, and Robert Iler in “The Sopranos.”

That cut to black wasn’t the last we’ll ever see of the Soprano family. David Chase, the creator of “The Sopranos,” is going back to their story, but not — phew! — with a revival.

Yes folks, there’s a prequel coming at us, and it will be a theatrical movie, not a series. Although if the movie does well, anything could happen, right?

Personally, I’m not a fan of the idea. The past informed the present on “The Sopranos,” and so futzing with the series’ backstory may well affect or alter the original story. But, particularly since “Better Call Saul,” I’ve tried to wait and see the product before getting too judgy.


Here’s what we know about “The Sopranos” prequel:

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1. The movie currently has the working title “The Many Saints of Newark.”

2. The screenplay has been written by Chase and Lawrence Konner, whose resume includes the movie “Mona Lisa Smile,” the miniseries “Roots” from 2016, and episodes of shows from “Family” and “Little House on the Prairie” to “Boardwalk Empire” and, yes, “The Sopranos.” Konner is the father of Jenni Konner, the showrunner of “Girls.”

3. The Sopranos’ story will be set against the backdrop of the 1967 Newark race riots, which were triggered when police beat a black cabdriver named John Smith. Over four days, amid looting and destruction, 26 people died. According to the official description of the movie, it was a period “when the African Americans and the Italians of Newark were at each other’s throats, and when among the gangsters of each group, it became especially lethal.”

4. Since Tony Soprano was born in 1959 and would be only 7 or 8 years old during the riots, the death of James Gandolfini won’t affect the casting.


5. Chase, who directed only two episodes of “The Sopranos,” will not direct the movie, but, of course, will be involved in choosing the director.

6. Younger versions of characters from the HBO show will appear in the movie, but Chase & Co. haven’t named any names yet.

7. The script was purchased by New Line, which is part of Warner Bros. Picture Group and which is responsible for the two “Sex and the City” movies. “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,” Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich said in a statement.

8. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Last year, Chase told Entertainment Weekly, “I could conceive of maybe a prequel of ‘The Sopranos.’ I could never see [a return of the show] except as a prequel.” And in 2016, speaking about the possibility of a prequel, he told Deadline, “I’ve said it from the beginning: if I had a really good idea and I thought it could be really entertaining and it wouldn’t upset what was done I might do it.”

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.