Remember when There Will Be Blood made a decent amount of money and scored a bunch of Oscar nominations, making you think that you wouldn’t have to wait another five years for the next Paul Thomas Anderson movie? Well, Universal Pictures shot that plan to hell when it passed on the filmmaker’s next effort, but persistence is key and the auteur decided The Master was going to get made one way or another. Now, he’s finally got a deal to make the $35 million religious drama (which is now untitled) happen and his cast is already coming together.
Deadline reports that Harvey Weinstein purchased global rights to distribute the film, with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix set to star. The story follows a man who returns home after witnessing the horrors of WWII and tries to rediscover who he is in post-war America. He creates a belief system which catches on with other lost souls, one of them being Phoenix’s character. Early reports pegged the picture as a pseudo-exploration of the origins of a Scientology-like religious movement, a fact that gave Universal the jitters. The Weinstein’s, however, have never shied away from controversy and decided to step in. The production is now eying a June start for a late 2012 release.
Aside from the fore mentioned male stars, Anderson is said to be looking at actresses including Madisen Beaty, Amy Adams, Laura Dern and Lena Endre for roles – any one of them would increase the prestige of the project tenfold, but my guess is that the young Beaty would play an earlier version of Adams’ proposed character (though with Superman gearing up for its June shoot, I’m doubtful the Oscar-nominee would be able to commit to the picture). Megan Ellison, through her Annapurna Pictures company, is fully financing the risky indie, a job she’s becoming more and more recognized for (she has saved a handful of independent features that couldn’t find funds anywhere else, including John Hillcoat’s The Wettest County In The World and Andrew Dominik’s Cogan’s Trade). Commercially, this film will either be a modest hit, like the majority of Anderson’s films, or a massive failure. But one thing is certain: cinephiles have something excitingly shocking to look forward to next year. There’s a reason it takes PTA as much as five years to make his movies; they are thoroughly thought-out and painstakingly executed. Every shot will be poetic and every line of dialogue will be a masterpiece. Hello, 2013 Oscars…