In September, it seemed like writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson's movie inspired by L. Ron Hubbard's founding of Scientology was dead as a doornail. But in the last few months, that doornail has proved rather harder to kill, with the "There Will Be Blood" director securing financing from Megan Ellison, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's daughter. Today, the untitled project cleared another major hurdle: The Weinstein Company will be distributing the film.
The company behind Best Picture winner "The King's Speech" won worldwide rights to Anderson's film in what Deadline is calling "a quiet but fevered bidding battle." There's no word yet when the film might come out, but Deadline is saying that it will start shooting next month, and that Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix will star in the film.
Since it's been so long described as "that movie about Scientology," Anderson's project probably needs to be reintroduced to us, especially since the filmmaker reportedly did some extensive rewrites to it recently. Deadline offers this new overview of the project:
Hoffman stars as a man who returns after witnessing the horrors of WWII and tries to rediscover who he is in post-war America. He creates a belief system, something that catches on with other lost souls.
Even if it's not about Hubbard specifically, the parallels are pretty obvious, even down to the fact that Hubbard served in World War II and supposedly was inspired to start Scientology after coming home disillusioned. Regardless, the movie seems very much in keeping with the themes Anderson has pursued in "There Will Be Blood" and the Tom Cruise section of "Magnolia" about people's need for higher powers and charismatic leaders to give life meaning. Between now and its release, though, you can imagine Harvey Weinstein and Anderson will be spending every free minute insisting the movie isn't about Scientology -- and that nobody will believe them.