Paul Thomas Anderson Sets 2020 Return by Going Back to His ‘Boogie Nights’ Roots

Anderson's ninth feature film is one of 13 projects that has scored California tax credits for its 2020 production.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Update, December 18: Focus Features has announced it will release Anderson’s new film domestically. Universal Pictures International will handle foreign distribution. Production is scheduled for spring and summer 2020 in California.

Earlier: Paul Thomas Anderson is gearing up to return to feature filmmaking in 2020, marking his first directorial effort since the theatrical release of “Phantom Thread” in December 2017. Deadline reports the untitled Anderson movie is one of 13 projects that scored California tax credits next year, another being Damien Chazelle’s Paramount release “Babylon” (that film already has a Christmas 2021 release date). Deadline refers to Anderson’s new project as a high school-set movie, and THR has dropped some additional info that makes it sound like Anderson is going back to his “Boogie Nights” roots.

Similar to his breakout 1997 feature, Anderson’s new project will be set in the San Fernando Valley sometime during the 1970s. The main character is a high school student who also happens to be a successful child actor. Anderson’s dramas “Magnolia” (1999) and “Punch-Drunk Love” (2002) were also set in the San Fernando Valley, which is where Anderson grew up. The high school drama will mark the ninth feature film of Anderson’s career. Casting is reportedly underway, and the film is being described as an ensemble piece. As always, Anderson is writing and directing the film, plus producing through his Ghoulardi Film Company banner. IndieWire has reached out to Anderson’s representatives for further details.

Anderson briefly returned to theaters this year for the exclusive one-night IMAX release of his Thom Yorke music video short film “Anima,” which earned rave reviews from film critics. Anderson’s last feature, “Phantom Thread,” was also critically acclaimed and earned five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Supporting Actress (Leslie Manville), Best Original Score, and Best Costume Design. The film won the Oscar in the latter category. Anderson’s Best Director nod was the second of his career following “There Will Be Blood.”

Deadline reports Anderson’s 2020 production is set to receive $2.5 million in tax credits. Other projects scoring California tax credits include Aaron Sorkin’s Lucille Ball biographical drama with Cate Blanchett (Amazon is backing the project), Warner Bros.’ “Little Shop of Horrors” musical remake from producers David Geffen and Marc Platt, and an adaptation of the Tony-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” Anderson is expected to begin production on his new film in February 2020.

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