David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos and one of the writers of the upcoming prequel film The Many Saints of Newark, says he’s “extremely angry” with the decision to release the film simultaneously in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. The Many Saints of Newark is set to explore the formative years of Tony Soprano, the main character from HBO’s hit series The Sopranos. It’s also the first Sopranos project since the show ended after six seasons in 2007.
James Gandolfini, the actor who portrayed Tony Soprano, passed away in 2013, and The Many Saints of Newark will now see his real-life son, Michael Gandolfini, step in to play the character at a younger age. Gandolfini shares the screen with a stellar cast, including Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Ray Liotta, Alessandro Nivola, and Leslie Odom Jr. The film is directed by Alan Taylor, who previously directed several episodes of The Sopranos before going on to helm episodes of Game of Thrones and films like Thor: The Dark World. Chase serves as a co-writer and producer on The Many Saints of Newark, but as the movie’s debut draws near, he’s opened up about his disdain for the film’s release plans.
While speaking with Deadline, Chase was asked about the day-and-date release in theaters and on HBO Max for The Many Saints of Newark. Chase was quick to answer, saying, “I don’t think, frankly, that I would’ve taken the job if I knew it was going to be a day-and-date release.” He then added, “I think it’s awful.” Chase elaborated on why he felt that way as he dug into the film’s origins. In Chase’s mind, the film stems from a TV show, and he wanted the film to shed that TV image. With The Many Saints of Newark being released to HBO Max the same day as in theaters, Chase argues that the release diminishes the film’s intent, saying, “It was designed to be a movie.” Chase even went on to say that had he known about this release beforehand, he may have walked away from the project. Check out Chase’s comments below:
“Extremely angry, and I still am. I mean, I don’t know how much you go into this, you know, like…okay. If I was…one of those guys, if one of those executives was sitting here and I was to start pissing and moaning about it, they’d say, you know, there’s 17 other movies that have the same problem. What could we do? Covid! Well, I know, but those 16 other movies didn’t start out as a television show. They don’t have to shed that television image before you get people to the theater. But we do. And that’s where we’re at. People should go see it in a theater. It was designed to be a movie. It was…it’s beautiful as a movie. I never thought that it would be back on HBO. Never.”
“I could’ve walked away, yes, but there was a part of that story where my partner Lawrence was saying come on, let’s get to work. Let’s do something, do something, do something. It’ll be good for you. Now, do you walk away from that? I don’t know.”
While Chase’s anger stems from wanting The Many Saints of Newark to stand on its own as a theatrical film, he’s not the only creator to get upset over films being given day-and-date releases in theaters and on streaming. Denis Villeneuve expressed similar disdain when HBO announced the release plan for Dune. More recently, the day-and-date release of Black Widow on Disney+ prompted the film’s star, Scarlett Johansson, to sue Disney. With movie theaters still working to bounce back from the COVID pandemic, day-and-date releases have sparked controversy in the industry.
Given that The Many Saints of Newark isn’t the first, nor the last film to be released in this manner, it could still become the new normal even after pandemic concerns subside. At this juncture, the downside still seems to be that day-and-date releases can hurt the creators who had specific visions for their projects. While the overall future of film releases is still in a state of flux, The Many Saints of Newark seems set in its release plan despite Chase’s anger. The Many Saints of Newark will debut in theaters and on HBO Max on October 1st.