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Paul Thomas Anderson is back. The eight-time Best Picture nominee hasn’t made a feature film since Phantom Thread in 2017 (although he’s recently worked with HAIM and Thom Yorke on a few smaller projects), so news that a forthcoming PTA production is in the works is exciting to say the least.
Here’s everything we know about Anderson’s new project so far.
On April 16, 2018, around four months after the release of Phantom Thread, /Film reported that Anderson was working on whittling down a 600-page script for a mysterious next project. Anderson spoke on The Ringer’s Bill Simmons podcast about the writing process, according to The Playlist.
The director said, “I will probably try to daydream about what I know is in there and wonder how much I can get away with not looking at it and just write from what I know that’s in there that is good. Because when you go back into those 600 pages, it’s a briar patch isn’t it? Right? You start to see something, ‘well this is not a bad idea and maybe I should follow that thread?’ And the next thing you know, two hours later you really pissed the day away, right?”
It is unclear if the 600-page screenplay in question back in 2018 refers to the film on which Anderson is expected to begin production soon, or if it’s a different project altogether. But what we do know, however, is that Anderson is slated to begin production on an untitled film this spring or summer, assuming that coronavirus concerns do not interfere with the shooting schedule.
“Sources say casting is underway to find the lead and the project features a multitude of roles and could be ensemble in nature or have intersecting storylines,” THR reported. Potentially, Anderson’s latest could weave together disparate stories like Magnolia.
The forthcoming film is slated to receive $2.5 million in tax credits from the State of California, alongside films like Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, Aaron Sorkin’s new film about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and the film production of Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, per Deadline.
On Nov. 12, 2019, THR reported that the film will focus on a high school student who is also a child actor, set in 1970s San Fernando Valley, California. As THR points out, the director also set Punch-Drunk Love, Boogie Nights and Magnolia in the area, so clearly Anderson has an affinity for stories set in his hometown.
Few cast details have been confirmed as of yet, but viewers might be able to expect an ensemble cast, as the above reports have speculated. According to World of Reel, Leonardo DiCaprio was in talks to star in the Anderson production, but reportedly changed course: “Back in April, it was revealed that Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio had passed on the film directed by Anderson in favor of working with Guillermo del Toro, which he then passed on to work with Martin Scorsese on his next movie Killers of the Flower Moon.”
With an ensemble cast, perhaps a few PTA favorites could appear in film, including John C. Reilly (Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia), Adam Sandler (Punch-Drunk Love), Luis Guzmán (Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love), Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights, Magnolia), Melora Walters (Boogie Nights, Magnolia) or Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, Inherent Vice).
Anderson will be producing the film via his own Ghoulardi Film Company. Frequent collaborators JoAnne Sellar and Daniel Lupi will also be producing. Focus Features, the company that distributed Phantom Thread, is set to distribute Anderson’s latest.
“There is simply no other filmmaker like Paul Thomas Anderson. He is a true original who consistently mesmerizes fans with unparalleled vision and storytelling. We are beyond thrilled to be teaming up once again with Paul, JoAnne and Daniel,” said Peter Kujawski, Chairman of Focus Features.
A premiere date is not yet known; however, production is slated to begin in spring or summer of 2020. If that remains true, the film should be looking at a 2021 premiere date.
When Anderson is not working on a 600-page feature script or gearing up for production, the director has some pretty good side hustles, like directing music videos for the rock group HAIM—most recently, “The Steps”—or making Anima, a short film with Yorke in 2019.
Check out vintage PTA talking about his film education:
Watch this space for further updates on Anderson’s new film.