You’ve got to assume the secretive folks at Annapurna Pictures are fairly amused this afternoon after opening the latest edition of the New York Times. Inside is a curiously timed and rather headscratching article about Paul Thomas Anderson‘s upcoming drama, expected to be called, “The Master.”
Written by the generally solid Micheal Cieply (who make no mistake, we tip our cap to), the article about this Annapurna Pictures-produced, The Weinstein Company-distributed, sixth feature-length PTA effort is unusual because, well, it provides a rather well-known recap of the film without on-the-record quotes from anyone in the production (PTA has declined to speak publicly about the movie thus far). This is to say, it genuinely feels like Cieply set out to write a profile on “The Master” but was pretty much stonewalled every step of the way.
The issue isn’t with the writer, but instead demonstrates just how buttoned-up production on PTA’s secretive film is. Everyone involved has this thing on utter lockdown. The article posits whether the films is about Scientology or not (their answer: maybe, and maybe not) and for any PTA fans or cinephiles closely watching this film, this ground has been covered (the answer: unclear, but like “There Will Be Blood,” whichs spins off its story from “Oil!,” many assume PTA has used L. Ron Hubbard as a launching pad for his own unique tale; and for deeper context check out our old, in-depth script review).
Anywho, as blocked as the NYTimes are (and any outlet would be), as usual, there’s still a few interesting nuggets of info inside. Here’s four things we learned about Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” that we didn’t already know.
1. The budget was approximately $30 million. For comparison, “There Will Be Blood” was made for $25 million. Perhaps we’ll see a picture slightly bigger in scope? Or perhaps this is simply the price of period-piece cars and boats they likely had to rent (‘TWWB’ just needed trains and costumes for the most part, but is pretty damn spare in its locations).
2. Formerly known as Freddie Sutton, Joaquin Phoenix‘s character is now called Freddie Quell and his character apparently also shares “accidental similarities” with Anderson’s father. “The elder Anderson was a Navy vet who served in the Pacific during World War II, and, like Quell, was born about 90 years ago,” the Times writes.
3. The Church of Scientology aren’t mad at the film…yet. “The Church only knows about the film what it has read in the press…we have not seen the film, so can’t say one way or another,” a spokesperson told the Times.
4. Rumors that the film was inspired by the deaths of married artists Jeremy Blake and Teresa Blake — whose heartbreaking dual suicides are supposed to have some sort of connection to alleged harassment by Scientologists — is flatly denied. “It’s been in his head for years and years and years, probably 12 years,” a friend of PTA’s speaking on condition of anonymity said.
“The Master” is due in theaters October 12th (in what is likely a limited release to begin) and stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Laura Dern, David Warshofski, Madisen Beaty and many more. Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead is composing the score, Mihai Malaimare Jr. (“Tetro“) is the cinematographer this time out and parts of, or possibly all of the film was shot in 65mm.