A Sopranos movie is in the works. Entitled The Many Saints Of Newark, a screenplay penned by series creator David Chase and writer Lawrence Konner has been picked up by New Line Cinema. The early premise of the film appears to revolve around racial conflict between African-American and Italian-American gangs. The prequel movie will take place in the 1960s and feature the race riots that swept through Newark, NJ. I usually greet spin-offs with trepidation, but for once I have faith that a Sopranos movie will be a film worth watching.
A Sopranos Movie Will Be Big
The Many Saints Of Newark will be the most anticipated organized crime film since The Departed hit theaters in 2006. Television was never the same after The Sopranos began airing on HBO. Many people consider The Sopranos to be the greatest television series ever made. The series ran from 1999 to 2007 and pulled in 21 Emmy Awards and 111 nominations. At the very least, The Sopranos is the most significant show in the modern wave of quality television. It ushered in a new standard of drama that audiences have since adopted as being the new normal.
The Sopranos has held its reputation in the decade since its storied run ended. The quality of writing and production ensured that the series remains fresh and exciting. Even though subsequent series have adopted Chase’s anti-hero premise, The Sopranos does not feel dated. Along with The Wire and Breaking Bad, The Sopranos remains one of the most beloved television shows of the modern era. In his book The Platinum Age of Television, critic David Bianculli offers this summation of The Sopranos’ status as an iconic entity,
“… it had great scripts, directors, and actors, of course, but also because it broke all the rules and, in so doing, not only drew attention to itself like a magnet but proved that cable TV dramas could compete for audience as well as awards, with the biggest guns from the broadcast networks.”
Not everything deserves a spin-off. Prequels and sequels rarely touch the original. A Sopranos movie will not be as impactful as The Sopranos, but there will be tremendous pressure on Chase to get this film right. This will be the first time that Chase’s North Jersey underworld will be enhanced by more material. A reasonable set of expectations should be in place for The Many Saints Of Newark. Without James Gandolfini, a Sopranos movie just won’t be the same, but this movie has the potential to sweep a box office weekend.
What To Expect From A Sopranos Movie
David Chase will produce the film, his first since 2010’s Not Fade Away. The plot of The Many Saints Of Newark is rumored to include Tony Soprano’s father, Giovanni, and his mother, Livia. Soprano’s Uncle Junior is also cited as having been included in the film’s screenplay.
Newer characters are likely going to diversify the screen. The Sopranos was always more than a straight-up mafia movie like Goodfellas. I would find it hard to believe that Chase would not want to fully flesh out both the Italian and African-American sides to these riots. Chase is going to want to devise multi-dimensional characters who are interesting and produce anti-hero gray area. Bold prediction: Michael K. Williams makes an appearance in The Many Saints Of Newark. Co-writer Lawrence Konner was a writer on Boardwalk Empire, one of Williams’ many HBO-related appearances (The Night Of, The Wire).
It is likely that there will be a few allusions to the television series. One character who could return is Hesh Rabkin. A confidante of Tony Soprano, Hesh was a record executive in the ’50s and ’60s. In the Season One Episode “A Hit Is A Hit,” it is revealed that Hesh made his fortune by ripping off African-American musicians. He also co-owned a racetrack with Tony Soprano’s father and mafioso Phil Leotardo. Hesh may be the most convenient way for The Many Saints Of Newark to bridge the feuding communities with the story of The Sopranos.
The Sopranos was not just another mob story that glorified crime. The introspective moments from the series are just as much a part of The Sopranos as gabagool. Even though a film will not be able to explore these inward-looking elements at length, some pensive movements are likely to be incorporated into the movie as well.
This could be a damn good movie.
Why A Sopranos Movie Will Be Great
What made The Sopranos transcendent was its writing. The return of David Chase ensures that a level of quality will remain in place. I would not be interested in The Many Saints Of Newark if he was not directly involved with the film.
Both Chase and co-writer Lawrence Konner have an impressive list of credits outside of The Sopranos. Konner has worked on projects ranging from the unlikely Sopranos influencer Little House on the Prairie to The Planet of the Apes (2001) and Boardwalk Empire. Chase has written for major television shows like The Rockford Files and Northern Exposure.
It would be unlikely for Chase to bring The Sopranos out of mothballs unless he had a compelling screenplay. Even if the cast and characters are different, the writing will be the primary bond between the film and the television series.
A Sopranos Movie Was Destined For The Big Screen
Chase originally conceived The Sopranos as a movie. Had HBO not picked up The Sopranos, Chase would have tried to sell it as a feature film. In hindsight, it is impossible to imagine the television series in any other form.
The open-ended nature of the famous series finale left many fans clamoring for a sequel. The closing diner sequence has been rehashed like the Zapruder film. The idea of a legitimate sequel film was put to rest after James Gandolfini’s death in 2013. We will never know what happened after the door opened in the diner.
Even though many fans may remain irate that the finale was left open for interpretation, The Many Saints Of Newark could bring a sense of closure to Chase. It may be his last chance at returning to one of the greatest concepts in modern entertainment.
www.flatcircleblog.com is a Philadelphia pop-culture blog that covers television, music, podcasts, and movies. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, or subscribe by e-mail to catch all posts and conversations.