The Many Saints of Newark was a huge flop at the box office. To date, it’s grossed just $11.6 million worldwide — bad numbers for any wide release, but for a prequel to one of the most beloved television series in history, absolutely disastrous. Despite the fact that Warner Bros. marketed the film as “A Sopranos Story” on its posters and trailers, and despite the fact that The Sopranos creator David Chase was heavily involved with the film as writer and producer, audiences just didn’t pay to see it in a theater.
But according to Chase himself, the movie “broke the machine on streaming — it was huge.” That makes sense; Warner Bros. put The Many Saints of Newark on HBO Max at the same time it was in theaters. People watched 86 hours of The Sopranos on HBO; why would they pay to see the prequel to that story on a big screen when they could watch that on HBO at no extra charge?
The success of Many Saints on streaming, even in the face of its poor box-office performance, means that this prequel may now get a sequel. As Chase told The Hollywood Reporter, though, he and the studio have different visions for what that might be. He explained that Warner Bros. and HBO want “another series of Sopranos from the time the movie ends until the time the series begins.” But he admits he’s “not that anxious to do it” and would instead prefer to make “one more movie” set prior to the events of The Sopranos because he has “an idea” that interests him. But, he added, “I don’t think they want that.”
So now it becomes a matter of which side bends to the other. Can Warners convince Chase to make another Sopranos television series? Or will they acquiesce to Chase and let him make one more film? And if they do, will it be more well-received than The Many Saints of Newark?
I guess I understand Chase’s hesitation to make another Sopranos television show. Chase made maybe the best TV series in history, and there’s no way another show will live up to it. Even trying to do so, he sets himself up for failure. On the other hand, the biggest issue with The Many Saints of Newark was that it felt like it was an entire season of television awkwardly crammed into a two-hour film. With enough room to breathe and develop the characters, it might have been something really special. But if Chase doesn’t want to make a television series now, then the point is moot anyway.
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