‘The Sopranos’ to make a comeback in a big-screen prequel

‘The Many Saints of Newark’ is set in the racial tension of 1960s New Jersey

The Sopranos: David Chase’s HBO series, starring James Gandolfini, ended in 2007

The Sopranos: David Chase’s HBO series, starring James Gandolfini, ended in 2007

 

A prequel to the hit US Mafia drama The Sopranos is being developed as a movie, possibly reuniting some of television’s most-loved characters. New Line Cinema, part of Warner Bros, said it has bought the screenplay The Many Saints of Newark from the series’ creator, David Chase, and his fellow Sopranos writer Lawrence Konner.

The script is set in the social and racial tumult of the New Jersey city in the 1960s and will focus on tensions between ethnic Italians and African-Americans. The 1967 Newark riots saw four days of looting and violence that led to the deaths of 26 people. They were the result of a long-running feeling of disenfranchisement among black people who had been racially profiled, subjected to violence from the authorities, and denied opportunities. The inciting incident was an act of police brutality against a black taxi driver.

New Line said the film is expected to include some characters from the HBO series, which ended in 2007. In its six seasons the drama won 21 Emmys, made stars of James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, and was credited with ushering in TV’s new golden age of complicated characters and challenging storylines, as well as turning HBO into an industry behemoth. There was no set release date or casting announcement, and no director is attached to the film yet.

The Sopranos star James Gandolfini died in 2013 of a heart attack, at the age of 51, and the supporting actor Frank Vincent, who played the mob boss Phil Leotardo, died last year.

The Sopranos: David Chase has sold The Many Saints of Newark to New Line. Photograph: Diane Bondareff/AP
The Sopranos: David Chase has sold The Many Saints of Newark to New Line. Photograph: Diane Bondareff/AP

“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,” Toby Emmerich, the chairman of Warner Bros Pictures Group, said in a statement.

In 2016 Chase spoke about the possibility of a prequel. “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,” he told Deadline.

Last year, when speaking to Entertainment Weekly, he suggested that he was more open to the idea. “I could conceive of maybe a prequel of The Sopranos,” he said. “I could never see [a return of the show] except as a prequel.”

Chase wrote and directed the music drama Not Fade Away in 2012. It received mainly positive reviews yet was a box-office disappointment, making just $600,000 from a $20 million budget. – Reuters/Guardian