The Sopranos prequel movie, Newark, features a young version of Tony Soprano played by Michael Gandolfini, and that might mean there’s a retcon. The Sopranos movie, previously known as The Many Saints of Newark, is set for release next year and will serve as a prequel to the iconic HBO TV series.
The Sopranos creator David Chase has co-written the screenplay for Newark with Lawrence Konner, while Alan Taylor is directing. Newark wrapped production this summer, with a release date of September 25, 2020, currently penciled in. The Sopranos prequel movie will take place in New Jersey during the 1960s, and feature the Newark Riots that swept the city. The film has an impressive cast, including Alessandro Nivola, Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, and Ray Liotta, but it’s the casting of Gandolfini, son of the late Tony Soprano actor James Gandolfini, that really caught the attention of fans.
While it would be hard to do a Sopranos movie of any kind without Tony being involved in some capacity, the casting of Michael Gandolfini, while understandable, does raise a question about the timeline of both Newark and The Sopranos. Gandolfini is 19-years-old, making him the ideal age to play an up-and-coming version of Tony who is just starting to make a name for himself in New Jersey’s crime network. The problem is the film is about the Newark Riots – or so we’ve been told at least – which happened in 1967.
Early on in The Sopranos, we see Tony Soprano celebrating his 40th birthday. This took place in 1999, meaning his birthday was 1959. Alongside that, there were also flashbacks which confirmed Tony was only eight-years-old at the time of the Newark Riots, which makes him too young to have any real part to play in them, and also way too young to be played by Gandolfini, which is why a retcon seems possible. If they pushed back Tony’s age by 10 years, meaning he was instead born around 1949, then he’d be at the right age to start making his way in the crime world against the backdrop of the Newark Riots, which would be a compelling storyline for The Sopranos prequel movie to utilize.
At the same time, Chase created a tight world with lots of attention to detail, so it does seem strange that something as important as Tony’s age could be retconned for The Sopranos prequel movie. The alternative is that we’re instead going to see either a more sprawling narrative, which takes place in multiple time periods, charting the changing landscape of the New Jersey crime world and gradually seeing Tony’s induction into it under the wing of his mentor, Dickie Moltisanti (Nivola). That would make more sense than retconning Tony Sopranos’ age, but it goes against what’s been said about The Sopranos movie so far. Since production has only recently wrapped and the film is still over a year away, it might be a little while yet before we find out for sure how Tony Soprano fits into Newark.