‘The Many Saints of Newark’ Revives Interest in ‘Sopranos’ Hit Series

The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel movie based on the HBO series The Sopranos, opened nationwide on Friday. It has already revived interest in the hit cable television show about fictional New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano. 

Michael and James Gandolfini
Michael and James Gandolfini
Michael Gandolfini, left, is pictured in this split-screen image with his father, James Gandolfini. In The Many Saints of Newark, Michael Gandolfini plays a character made famous by his father in HBO’s The Sopranos. (Image: People)

The Mob Museum in Las Vegas held an advance screening of the movie this week at a theater inside Red Rock Resort and Casino, west of downtown. 

Las Vegas podcaster Tommy Canale, who attend the advance screening, predicted The Many Saints of Newark will attract new viewers to the television show.

Those that have not seen it will leave the theater wanting to watch the entire series,” Canale told Casino.org. “It may just open up the next generation into why The Sopranos was such a big hit years ago.” 

The series ran for 86 episodes from 1999 to 2007. The final episode ended in a real-life Bloomfield, New Jersey, ice cream parlor, Holsten’s, with the screen going black as Sopranos family members sat in a booth eating onion rings. Some fans have speculated that the vague ending indicates Tony Soprano was shot to death. 

The prequel movie includes a lot things that fans will remember from the television series, Canale said.

“It is a must-see for anyone who has seen the TV series, as it has several locations, people, and past episode references,” he said.

Gandolfini Father and Son

The movie, which opened simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, centers on the series’ familiar characters during their younger years. It is set against a backdrop of late 1960s racial strife in Newark, New Jersey.

In the movie, 22-year-old Michael Gandolfini portrays a younger Tony Soprano. Gandolfini’s father, James, played the adult Mob boss in the cable TV series, which ended 14 years ago. 

James Gandolfini died in Rome in 2013 of a heart attack at age 51.

Las Vegas in Mob Movies

The HBO series is one in a long line of television shows and movies that, at least partially, address the Mob world’s attraction to Las Vegas casinos.

In an episode of The Sopranos final season, Tony Soprano visits Las Vegas, where he plays roulette at Caesars Palace on the Strip. In the desert near Las Vegas, he has an undefined vision, leading him to proclaim loudly, “I get it!” 

Movies about the city’s underworld connection date back to the film noir days, including 1950’s 711 Ocean Drive. 

The connection came into greater prominence in the 1970s with The Godfather trilogy, depicting the Corleone family’s financial interest in Las Vegas casinos. Some of the scenes were shot at the Tropicana and Riviera hotel-casinos on the Strip, according to the Nevada Film Office. The Riviera has since closed. The Tropicana is still in operation near McCarran International Airport.

In 1995, the Las Vegas Mafia movie Casino brought more attention to the city’s Mob history. 

The movie starred Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone as characters based on Mob associate Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal and his former Tropicana showgirl wife, Geri. 

Also in the movie, Joe Pesci plays a mobster modeled after Tony “The Ant” Spilotro, the Chicago Outfit’s overseer in Las Vegas in the 1970s and into the ’80s. Spilotro’s romantic relationship with Geri Rosenthal is fictionalized in the movie.

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