The Toronto International Film Festival has a well-deserved reputation for being a film industry event that gives rise to an incredible number of notable production deals. With that in mind, this year has so far seemed somewhat quieter than usual – and this has led to speculation in some quarters about the stability of the industry as a whole. But then, in came legendary writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson with his untitled next project, sparking an impressive bidding war that was ultimately won by Focus Features.
Seeing off competition from Fox Searchlight, Focus has secured the worldwide rights to the film, and will supply its entire budget of $35 million. Co-producing, along with Anderson, will be the equally legendary Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures – a long-time champion of independent filmmaking. The deal was undoubtedly helped to fruition by the fact that the movie will see Paul Thomas Anderson reunite with his Academy Award winning lead actor from There Will Be Blood, Daniel Day-Lewis.
While some reports have referred to the film as being set in the fashion world of 1950s New York, the press release from Focus Features, upon the completion of the production deal, names the backdrop as 1950s London.
“Continuing a creative collaboration following 2007’s There Will Be Blood, which earned Mr Day-Lewis the Best Actor Academy Award, and the film nominations for Best Picture, Directing, and Screenplay, Mr Anderson will once again explore a distinctive and surging milieu of the 20th century through the new movie – the couture world of 1950s London.
“Focus Chairman Peter Kujawski commented, ‘Paul Thomas Anderson is a singular storyteller who has the ability to mesmerize audiences by creating complex and fascinating characters. It is our privilege to bring Daniel Day-Lewis’s reteaming with Paul to movie lovers who have long hoped for their reunion.’
“Added Ms Ellison, ‘Amongst their contemporaries, Paul and Daniel truly represent the highest tier of artistry in film. We are thrilled to partner with Peter and his entire team at Focus and collaborate once again with Paul on this ever original, visionary story. We cannot wait to see this lush world come to life with Daniel at the center.”
Clearly, this deal is excellent news for fans of cinema. There Will Be Blood is an exceptional piece of work, and the fact that Daniel Day-Lewis has reportedly been attached to this new project for some time – before Anderson even completed the script – means that the talented writer will have crafted a tale specifically with the actor in mind. While nothing beyond the setting details is known, the idea of Daniel Day-Lewis playing, perhaps, a Don Draper-esque denizen of the 1950s fashion world is a truly irresistible prospect.
Now that the deal with Focus Features has closed, the untitled Paul Thomas Anderson film is due to begin production in January, with the finished product to appear later in 2017. We can surely expect that release to aim with laser-like precision at the heart of awards season but, in the meantime, watch this space for further casting announcements.