It’s been just over 14 years since one of this century’s most iconic finales aired. The episode titled ‘Made in America’ drew the curtain on HBO’s The Sopranos, shocking, frustrating and mystifying an audience of millions and leaving everyone with the burning question; what happened to Tony Soprano? While the sudden passing of lead actor James Gandolfini in 2013 effectively ended any chance of a show revival or continuation that would present an answer to that question, the heavily referenced but mostly unexplored backstory of Soprano left ample room for some form of prequel. Well, after a long 14-year absence, the legendary fictional New Jersey mob boss will finally be returning to our screens, this time as a young man (with a full head of hair!) in a much-anticipated prequel film titled The Many Saints of Newark. Crucially, the screenplay was penned by of the original creator of The Sopranos, David Chase, so we can feel reassured this will be no pale imitation of the original masterwork. HBO this week released the first trailer for the film, which will be released in October simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max, and it looks just as gritty, thrilling and darkly hilarious as the show whose world it precedes.
While the trailer leaves most of the plot and structure quite vague (rare in the current age of studio trailers where it seems most just the cram whole film into 3-minutes), the film is centered around Tony and his family’s (fictional) role in the (mostly non-fictional) turmoil in 1970’s Newark, New Jersey, where racial tension between Italian and African-American communities resulted in a period of heavy violence and crime. Much of the chatter around the film has centered around the casting of Gandolfini’s son, Michael, as late-teenage Tony Soprano. When announced, the decision raised eyebrows, as to this point the 22-year-old has only a handful of film/television credits to his name, mostly in small, supporting roles. Michael himself admitted that prior to being cast, he had not personally watched the show which made his father a television icon in the 00’s. He has of course remedied this and while he’s not exactly a spitting image of his late father, who better to take on the mantle of emulating James Gandolfini’s incredible performance as Soprano than his own flesh and blood, right?
The prequel, which has been in the works since 2018 and was originally slated for released in September 2020 (before… well, you know), follows the precedent set by fellow television phenomenon Breaking Bad, which followed up its dazzling silver-screen run with a successful spin-off film, El Camino, back in 2019. For hardcore fans of the show that many consider one of the greatest in television history, this trailer will no doubt re-ignite the excitement brought on by the thrilling six season run of the original series. For the uninitiated, don’t worry, you’ve still got 4 months to binge the series and clue yourself in on the characters (many of the original main cast of characters from the series will feature in the film, albeit much younger versions played by a new cast of actors). Although really, regardless of any prequel film, you shouldn’t need any excuse to finally get around to watching The Sopranos. Do yourself the favour of watching it anyway.