‘The Sopranos’ prequel movie gets a new title and a killer Oscar season release date

Tony Soprano & Co. are ready to crash the Oscars in 2021. The prequel film to “The Sopranos” has gotten a release date and a new title: Previously titled “The Many Saints of Newark,” it is now going by “Newark” and will hit theaters on Sept. 25, 2020, New Line Cinema announced Thursday.

Written by “Sopranos” creator David Chase and Lawrence Konner, and to be directed by Alan Taylor, the film is set in 1960s Newark, N.J., and revolves around the deadly riots between the city’s African-Americans and Italian-Americans residents.

The cast includes Alessandro Nivola, Vera Farmiga, Ray Liotta, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro and Michael Gandolfini. Gandolfini is the son of the late James Gandolfini and will play a young version of his father’s iconic character, Tony Soprano, in the film. Nivola plays Dickie Moltisanti, Tony’s mentor and Christopher’s (Michael Imperioli) father who was frequently mentioned on the HBO series but never seen.

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“The Sopranos” won 21 Emmy Awards during its six-season run, including two Best Drama Series statuettes and three Emmys each for Gandolfini and Edie Falco. It was the first cable series to take the drama series prize at the Emmys, and also won five Golden Globes and two Peabody Awards.

It’s obviously way too soon to say if “Newark” will get any Oscar love, but its pedigree automatically makes it a player. That release date also puts it right at the beginning of awards season, which means the film could premiere at festivals, like Toronto and Telluride, in early September. And while most films based on TV shows are overlooked by the Oscars, every now and then you might get something like “The Fugitive” (1993), which won Tommy Lee Jones the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and was nominated for Best Picture. That film wasn’t set in the same universe as the 1960s series, so “Newark” being a prequel has built-in investment as well.

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