The following story contains spoilers for The Many Saints of Newark.
When The Many Saints of Newark dropped on HBO Max and in theaters last month, it represented a return to the world of The Sopranos that fans haven’t experienced since the original HBO series ended in 2007. While the film received something of a mixed, polarized reaction from both critics and fans, one thing it has undoubtably sparked is a further renewed interest in the already-eternally popular series. And now we’re hearing directly from the horse’s mouth—aka, the CEO of Warner Bros.—that more Sopranos could be on the way.
It stands to spark an interesting conversation about what audiences want most when it comes to shows in the streaming era. The Sopranos, in its original form, is as close to a consensus masterpiece as anything. You hear plenty of detractors for Game of Thrones (the ending in particular), there are people here and there who don’t like Breaking Bad, or who aren’t totally feeling The White Lotus, or whatever. You very rarely hear from anyone who didn’t care for The Sopranos.
And yet it stands to make us wonder, upon the lukewarm release of the film, if going down the road that produced that same product is really what audiences want. Yes, it would technically be the world of The Sopranos. But at some point it stands to wonder if trying to tap into a creative process that created greatness 15+ years ago is not quite as effective as looking into why that process worked, and what can be tweaked to find similar and updated results for the modern age.
Still, it’s worth taking this news at its face value. A new Sopranos series would undoubtably find a huge audience, and even the show’s fans who weren’t totally into The Many Saints of Newark would probably at least be curious to check the show out. There are many more stories in Tony’s life that can be told, even if we do already know how it’s going to turn out.
Here’s what else we know about a potential Sopranos prequel or Many Saints of Newark sequel spinoff series:
Will there be a Sopranos prequel series?
WarnerMedia CEO Ann Sarnoff confirmed in an interview with Deadline that there were ongoing discussions with Sopranos creator David Chase to bring viewers more of that world, despite the film’s underperformance at the box office. “It’s given it an entirely new life,” she said. “We’re talking to David about a new series Sopranos-related on HBO Max. [The Many Saints of Newark] literally lifted the Sopranos franchise in a new way, so you can’t measure it in and of itself in the box office.”
So, that’s not an official confirmation, but it certainly sounds like The Sopranos returning—likely in the form of a prequel set after The Many Saints of Newark but before the Sopranos pilot—is in play.
What would it be about?
The Many Saints of Newark leaves viewers in a place where they might be eager to see what happens next. Dickie Moltistani (Alessandro Nivola) has just been whacked, killed by Uncle Junior Soprano because he disrespected him for falling down some steps and hurting his back. But Tony (Michael Gandolfini) doesn’t know this, and clearly has some plans to really get into the family business after the death of his mentor.
David Chase has said that a prequel series would take place after Many Saints and before Sopranos, and Gandolfini confirmed that he could see some interesting stories being told about the character in that timeframe. But he doesn’t want to play Tony too close to the the time period when his father did.
“I am not so much interested in playing 30-year-old Tony,” he said in an interview with Uproxx. “I think it there’s an interesting part after this movie, before the show, that we can explore something about Tony that hasn’t been explored, in his youth, in his 20s. After that, we’re getting a little too old.”
Who would be in the cast?
This would probably be the trickiest part of pulling together this Sopranos prequel cast. The Many Saints of Newark established the actors who play the younger versions of the Sopranos characters fans were already long familiar with—and they’re quite famous. A series centered on Tony Soprano would obviously need to star Michael Gandolfini, who has said he’d be interested in returning. But it would also absolutely need to include his parents, Livia Soprano (played in the film by Vera Farmiga) and Johnny Boy Soprano (played by Jon Bernthal), who are both very busy actors who may not be able to sign onto a series.
The same goes for Corey Stoll (who played Uncle Junior), Billy Magnussen (who played Paulie Walnuts), John Magaro (who played Silvio Dante), and Leslie Odom Jr. (who played likely antagonist Harold McBrayer). These are all big-name, busy actors, who may be difficult to schedule for a new series at the same time. But never say never—and also don’t count out an appearance from Ray Liotta as the Jazz-loving Salvatore ‘Sally’ Moltisanti. Even though he’s in jail, he was still an important part of Dickie Moltisante’s life, and young Tony could definitely follow in some footsteps and go pay him a visit.
Evan is an associate editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE.
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