Prequel to cult series The Sopranos in production

Actors Vincent Pastore (left) and Frank Vincent arrive for the fifth season premiere of The Sopranos in 2004.
Actors Vincent Pastore (left) and Frank Vincent arrive for the fifth season premiere of The Sopranos in 2004.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - A film following the action leading up to the cult hit series The Sopranos is in production, a source close to the project told AFP on Thursday (March 8), confirming reports on US entertainment site Deadline.

New Line Cinema studio - a film production label of Warner Bros - has bought the rights to the screenplay The Many Saints Of Network, written by Sopranos creator David Chase and television and cinema screenwriter Lawrence Konner.

The prequel's plot transports viewers to 1960s New Jersey, the era of the Newark riots which saw clashes between the city's black and Italian communities - and the gangsters within each group - the source said.

Many of the project's details remain under wraps - but several characters from the Sopranos series will make an appearance in the film, presumably played by younger actors.

Co-writer David Chase will also produce the film and have a say in the selection of a not-yet-known director.

Broadcast between 1999 and 2007 on the US cable network HBO, The Sopranos marked, in the view of experts, the beginning of a golden age for television series with its dark humour and complex characters.

The series, which ran for six seasons with 86 episodes, was awarded 21 Emmy Awards and five Golden Globes.

Star James Gandolfini - who played troubled mob boss Tony Soprano - died of a heart attack in 2013.