The Many Saints of Newark will take place decades before The Sopranos, but where exactly does it fit in the timeline? After The Sopranos ended with its controversial cut-to-black finale in 2007, it seemed as though the story of Tony Soprano was finished for good. That may be the case in terms of his future – regardless of whether he’s alive or dead – but not for his past. Show creator David Chase has long toyed with the idea of a prequel, and it’ll finally release in 2021.
Written by Chase and helmed by longtime series director Alan Taylor, The Many Saints of Newark will revisit Tony’s story, serving as something of an origin for him. As The Many Saints of Newark‘s trailer makes clear, it’ll show the beginnings of his life in crime, while also focusing on some other key players of the time, including his dad, Johnny Boy, his uncle Junior, and Christopher Moltisanti’s father, Dickie, who is expected to be the main character.
In terms of the timeline, it’s believed that The Many Saints of Newark‘s story will take place across the 1960s and 1970s. The most fixed point in time offered up by the story and the trailer is 1967, the year the Newark riots took place. Scenes from the riots are glimpsed in trailer, placing the movie in July 1967; this is further backed-up by a movie theater showing The Dirty Dozen, which released in June 1967. That means The Many Saints of Newark takes place 31 years before The Sopranos, almost exactly – the pilot begins on June 17, 1998, as per the newspaper Tony reads in it. Whether that’s the farthest back the prequel goes, however, remains to be seen.
It’s likely that, following the Newark riots, there’ll be some skips through time, which would make sense in order to give this a more expansive feel. Satriale’s Pork Store is being shown as a key hangout location for the Sopranos crew in The Many Saints of Newark‘s trailer, which suggests scenes taking place in 1969 at the earliest. That was the year Johnny Boy cut off Mr. Satriale’s pinky finger due to unpaid debts, and it was after that he took over the store, so it’d make sense that these sequences continue into the early and mid-1970s. That would fit with Dickie’s life as well; he was killed when Christopher was very young, which places his death around the mid-70s. If he is the central character of the movie, it’d make sense to build to that end point, around 23 years before The Sopranos begins.
Taking the story into the 1970s will also be important for avoiding a Tony Soprano retcon. Since The Sopranos established him as being born in August 1959, then he’d only be seven-years-old at the time of the Newark riots, which tracks with flashbacks in the show itself of him watching them. Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini, is playing a teenage Tony in the movie (he is notably still at school), so having the action in the mid-70s allows the timeline to work. Chase is known for being detail orientated, so that would fit better than creating an issue. The Many Saints of Newark may feature several characters from The Sopranos, but it promises to show a much different time. The show itself made plenty of references to things working in a different way back then, both for better and worse, and that’s something the prequel movie can fully explore.