Sopranos Prequel The Many Saints Of Newark Release Date, Cast And Plot

Everybody's favorite crime family is coming to the screen, though perhaps not in the form that we all expected.

The Sopranos was a watershed series for HBO back when the premium cabler was just dipping its toe into the original series pool. Over its six-season run, the New Jersey mob drama might have produced more water cooler moments than any other show on TV. The story of a middle-aged mafia don in therapy to treat his crippling panic attacks kept us all on the edges of our seats right up until its final moments; those final moments, however, were divisive to say the least.

Since the infamous smash-to-black over Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," fans have been clamoring for a sequel — a series, a movie, something. We just had to know what actually happened to Tony (James Gandolfini) and the rest of the surviving Soprano clan. While series creator David Chase has stuck by his guns regarding the 2007 finale, he and his creative team did finally agree to revisit the morally ambiguous world of The Sopranos — although not in any way that's likely to provide closure for fans still lamenting the TV show's open-ended conclusion.

Back in March 2018, HBO officially announced that Chase and company were hard at work on a prequel movie exploring the origins of the Soprano crime family in 1960s-'70s Newark. Soon after the announcement, Chase himself revealed that Sopranos series alum Alan Taylor had been attached to direct the feature (via The Hollywood Reporter). 

The prequel film has been titled The Many Saints of Newark, and two years after its announcement, many critical details about the production are finally coming to light. Here's everything we know so far.

What is the release date of The Many Saints of Newark?

There's good news and bad news for fans who have been waiting patiently since 2007 to wade back into the world of The Sopranos. With post-production well underway, The Many Saints of Newark was supposed to hit screens on September 25 of this year (via Deadline). Fans were hoping that HBO might be able to stick to that timeline, since the majority of in-person production tasks had been completed on the film before the coronavirus pandemic really took hold. Unfortunately, the Sopranos prequel numbers among the many, many projects overwhelmed by the social distancing guidelines that have wreaked havoc across the industry. The Many Saints of Newark has officially been delayed.

This dark cloud comes with a significant silver lining, however. Unlike many productions, which have already been cancelled or placed on indefinite hold, The Many Saints of Newark already has a firm backup release date. We can now expect the hotly anticipated prequel to reach our TV screens on March 12, 2021 — a date confirmed by both Chase and HBO.

Who is in the cast of The Many Saints of Newark?

David Chase is one of the most sought-after showrunners in television, and with the power of his big name and HBO's deep pockets, he's been able to nail down a pretty stellar cast for his mid-century mob flick.

The official cast includes Vera Farmiga (When They See Us, Bates Motel), Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, The Walking Dead), Corey Stoll (Billions, House of Cards), Joey Diaz (The Midnight Gospel), Nick Vallelonga (Green Book), and Tony Award-winning Hamilton alum Leslie Odom Jr. (via IMDb). Also, one actor with about as much mafia cred as any thespian on the planet has signed on to play an as-yet-undisclosed role: Ray Liotta of Goodfellas fame.

Many of the other confirmed performers will be playing younger versions of characters from the original Sopranos series. Billy Magnussen (Tell Me a Story, Maniac) will be playing the young Paulie "Walnuts" Gaultieri, while John Magaro (Orange is the New Black, The Umbrella Academy) will portray Silvio Dante, a character originally made famous by Bruce Springsteen guitarist "Little" Steven Van Zandt. In the older generation, Alessandro Nivola will play fan-favorite Christopher Moltisanti's gangster father, Dickie. 

In a bittersweet turn of the casting fates, the late James Gandolfini's son, Michael (notice a resemblance?), will be playing the younger version of his father's iconic character. With all those heavy-hitters on board, The Many Saints of Newark is shaping up to be a tour de force.

What is the plot of The Many Saints of Newark?

For years, Chase has insisted that his only real interest in returning to the world of The Sopranos would be through a prequel that he could use to explore the lives of the older generation of New Jersey mobsters; as such, The Many Saints of Newark will take place 40 years before the events of The Sopranos.

While the creative team has kept pretty mum about the plot details, we can expect the film to explore the halcyon days of mafia glory that Tony always felt like he missed out on. An important element of Tony's character on The Sopranos was the existential angst he felt at having missed the prime years of organized crime. Per his own confessionals to his therapist, he felt like the best days of his business were behind him, and that the only thing his future could possibly hold would be prison or an early grave.

With its 1960s-'70s setting, The Many Saints of Newark appears poised to finally show us those good ol' days that Tony was always talking about, and we suspect that the reality won't live up to his fanciful imaginings. Hindsight has a way of putting a gloss on things, and David Chase has never been one to tell an uncomplicated story. As more plot details become available, we'll keep this post updated — so make sure to bookmark this page.