The Sopranos is one of the most famous TV shows of all time, but things would have been very different if the series had stuck to its original movie plan. The Sopranos is one of HBO’s defining shows, with the beloved mobster series going in-depth into the world and psychology of Tony Soprano and the series’ other criminals in a way that previous movies hadn’t been able to. All these years after the series conclusion, new viewers are still falling in love with The Sopranos. However, the TV show almost wasn’t a TV show at all, as The Sopranos’ origins were far different from what the series turned out as.
The Sopranos follows several New Jersey crime families in the final days of the mob, with the psychological and physical damage of decades of crime finally coming to a head. While season 1 focuses on Tony Soprano’s relationship with his mom as well as his time going to a therapist, the show soon became much bigger than anyone could have imagined. Across its six seasons, The Sopranos tells all kinds of incredible stories, from large-scale crime sagas to self-contained family dramas. The Sopranos is remembered for this dynamic storytelling, and the show’s status wouldn’t have been the same if it was a feature film.
The Sopranos Was Originally Pitched As A Movie
Despite it being one of the defining TV shows of the 2000s, The Sopranos was actually almost a movie. In a 2007 Written By interview by Mark Lee, The Sopranos creator David Chase explains the origins of his critically-acclaimed TV show and how it changed mediums early on in its development. The Sopranos was initially pitched as a feature film, with David Chase centering the film around Tony Soprano and his mental health, with this thesis being carried over into the final sho.
David Chase got his start writing for TV, working on a few shows and TV movies before The Sopranos. However, Chase always had his mind set on movies. His desire to make movies rather than TV led him to envision The Sopranos as a TV show. Luckily, things eventually changed. The Sopranos would have been fundamentally different if it were a movie, with the feature film version of The Sopranos probably looking far different from the final product.
The Main Focus Would’ve Been Tony Soprano Going To Therapy
If The Sopranos were a movie, the main focus would have been Tony going to therapy. Chase explains this in the interview, with it being the main concept that hooks many viewers in the series. While this is still a huge part of the final show, Tony’s struggle to go to therapy isn’t the main storyline. Putting a spotlight on Tony Soprano’s therapy would have made for a unique movie, but the TV show format allowed for a far more in-depth exploration of Tony’s psychology. While it isn’t known if Tony Soprano’s psychologist Dr. Melfi would be the doctor in the movie version, Tony’s therapy has been around since the beginning
Tony’s Problems With His Mom Would Have Been The Central Conflict
While The Sopranos movie would have focused on Tony going to therapy, the conflict that drives Tony’s declining mental health would have been his conflict with his mother. Although Tony’s dad dies before the events of The Sopranos, his mother Livia is still around, with her connections to the family’s criminal activity being a huge point of stress for Tony. On top of that, Livia just despises Tony throughout the show, making her relationship with Tony a massive conflict. Having a mobster movie where the boss’ mother is the villain would have been interesting, with it working well in the TV show.
Having Tony’s fights with his mother be the main conflict of The Sopranos movie would have been an interesting deviation from the show. Tony and Livia’s relationship is a big factor in the early seasons of the show, but after Livia Soprano was killed off in The Sopranos season 3, this storyline was mostly sidelined. However, centering Tony’s conflict with his mother would have truly made the series about the Soprano family, making the movie’s story a better fit for the title than the final TV show.
The Mobster & Crime Element Would Have Been Much Smaller
Despite The Sopranos being a mobster story, the original movie version probably would have made the crime elements much smaller. Exploring Tony’s mental health and his relationship with his mom was already a lot for a feature-length film, and adding in a robust mobster story would have made the film even more packed. The Sopranos show fully explores Tony’s criminal operations, his relationship with other crime families, and other various mobster activities. Significant chunks of this crime aspect would have been sidelined if The Sopranos was a movie, meaning that switching to a TV show was probably the right call.
The Sopranos Movie Would Have Missed Out On The Show’s Best Stories
On top of the criminal element, The Sopranos movie would have missed out on some of the show’s best stories. The Sopranos movie couldn’t have explored the side characters nearly as much as the show did, meaning that things like Christopher’s acting dreams, Paulie’s experience with the supernatural, and Vito’s sexuality would absolutely have not made the final cut. Characters like Adriana probably wouldn’t have existed at all, as she wasn’t expanded on until later seasons. Almost every side character is fully fleshed out by the end of The Sopranos, and so many of these stories wouldn’t have existed in the movie version.
Since Tony’s mom would have been the main antagonist of The Sopranos movie, the film also would have missed out on the show’s iconic villains. Some of Tony Soprano’s most dangerous enemies, including Phil Leotardo, Johnny Sacramoni, Richie Aprile, and Ralph Cifaretto probably wouldn’t have appeared in the movie. It would have been a shame to miss out on these fearsome villains, which is another reason why the initial movies’ differences probably weren’t a good thing.
Why The Sopranos Was Turned Into A TV Show
The Sopranos was initially turned into a TV show rather than a movie, and that’s all thanks to David Chase’s manager Lloyd Braun. After one of David Chase’s pitch meetings, Braun approached Chase and said “I want you to know that we believe that you have inside you a great television series.” It’s a good thing that Chase had his mind changed because Braun was right. If The Sopranos were a series, so much would have been missing from the final show that it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as beloved or well-remembered as HBO’s The Sopranos TV show is today.