WarnerMedia and David Chase are in early talks about a possible The Sopranos prequel show on HBO Max. The idea of a prequel to Chase’s iconic HBO mob series seemed like a pipe dream until The Many Saints of Newark made it a reality.
The original Sopranos of course ran on HBO from 1999 to 2007 and is today hailed as the show that ushered in the era of prestige TV. Series creator Chase revisited the characters he created for that milestone television show in this year’s theatrical-and-streaming Many Saints of Newark, directed by Alan Taylor and starring original Sopranos star James Gandolfini’s son Michael as the young Tony Soprano. Reviews for the long-awaited Sopranos prequel were unfortunately mixed, as many critics faulted the film for leaning into fan service, and failing to really reveal the origins of Tony Soprano’s mob career.
Any issues fans and critics may have had with the way The Many Saints of Newark depicted younger versions of iconic Sopranos characters could of course be rectified with another prequel film or even a TV show. Now it seems there’s a chance that another Sopranos project could happen, as Deadline reports that Chase and WarnerMedia are in early talks about doing something Sopranos-related on HBO Max. It’s not yet been decided if this new prequel would be a TV show or another movie. Enthusiasm for the project is being fueled in part by big streaming numbers for The Many Saints of Newark, which in the words of WarnerMedia CEO Ann Sarnoff, “Literally lifted all of The Sopranos franchise in a new way.”
Chase for his part has previously stated that if he did revisit The Sopranos again, the project would be set in the years between The Many Saints of Newark and the beginning of the show, and he would wish to write it with Sopranos collaborator Terrence Winter. So the time-frame for this new prequel could be anything from the late ‘70s to the late ‘90s. Of course having already established the younger Gandolfini as Tony, it would make sense to set the new project in whatever time fits the actor’s own age. This obviously assumes Gandolfini would come back to play young Tony in either a movie or TV show.
The prospect of a second Sopranos prequel movie frankly seems a lot less attractive than the possibility of a new Sopranos TV show. Indeed, WarnerMedia CEO Sarnoff indicated a show is what HBO Max really wants as she enthused to Deadline about the way The Many Saints of Newark revived interest the original series on the streaming service. Of course Sarnoff also had to concede that box office numbers for the movie were not very strong. This lack of theatrical success for The Many Saints of Newark seems like another sign-post pointing to a TV series revival being the more appealing way to go in perpetuating the Sopranos brand.
If a new prequel show or movie does happen, it certainly needs to make a more concerted effort to delve into the character of Tony and chart his evolution into a mob boss, and leave some of the more obvious fan service out of the equation. Having Uncle Junior fall down and curse may have helped make The Many Saints of Newark entertaining for some devotees of The Sopranos, but the movie’s most intriguing moments were those that gave real insight into Tony’s development, and unfortunately there just weren’t enough such moments.