The feature-length prequel to the hit HBO series The Sopranos was given both a release date and a name change. Originally titled The Many Saints of Newark, the newer and shorter title of simply Newark will make its theatrical debut on Sept. 25, 2020.
Currently, the plot of the film is unknown, but it the film is said to take place in New Jersey during the Newark riots of the 1960s. During that time, African-American and Italian-American gangs were at odds with each other.
The film will be directed by Alan Taylor, who is no stranger to directing shows for HBO. Besides directing nine episodes of The Sopranos, Taylor also directed six episodes of Sex and the City, four episodes of Bored to Death and seven episodes of Game of Thrones. Taylor also directed the 2013 sequel Thor: The Dark World after Patty Jenkins dropped out.
Newark sports an impressive cast playing younger versions of the actors who appeared on the television show when it ran for 86 episodes on HBO from 1999-2007. Alesandro Nivola, who appeared in Nicolas Winding Refn's 2016 film The Neon Demon, will play the younger version of Christopher Moltisanti's father, Dickie Moltisanti. The younger version of Tony Soprano will be played by Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini. It is not known if members of the original cast will be making any appearances in the film.
Ray Liotta also recently joined the film's cast. Liotta was initially offered the role of Tony Soprano, but turned it down because he was not interested in being on a television series at the time. Liotta later was offered the role of Ralph "Ralphie" Cifaretto, but he also declined that role. Eventually the part was played by Joe Pantoliano, and he would go on to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2003.
If it seems strange that The Sopranos prequel is a film and not a television series, it makes more sense when you look at how the show began. Originally The Sopranos was pitched as a feature film by series creator David Chase. The name change from The Many Saints of Newark to just Newark also falls in line with the original Sopranos series, which originally was going to use the name Made In New Jersey. The Sopranos became the first cable television series to win the Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Series.
Newark is directed by Alan Taylor and will premiere September 2020. The film stars Alesandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga, Ray Liotta, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro and Michael Gandolfini.