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Paul Thomas Anderson's Scientology Movie Bought By Weinstein Company

First Posted: 05/09/2011 5:14 pm EDT Updated: 01/17/2013 12:26 pm EST

It's not uncommon for a film to hit out at organized religion, but a long-gestating Paul Thomas Anderson script is ready to do the uncomfortable: take on, in metaphor, the Hollywood-centric Church of Scientology.

Deadline reports that Anderson's proposed film, once under the working title, "The Master," but now without a name, has had its worldwide distribution rights bought by the Weinstein Company following a multi-studio bidding war. It guarantees a global audience for the film, which will star Philip Seymour Hoffman as a man who creates a religion in 1952, and Joaquin Phoenix as his second in command.

The film, which begins shooting in June, is a long time coming; the script was finished in 2009 and then shelved before the recent movement. According to Variety, the first iteration centered on the relationship between The Master (Hoffman's character) and Freddie (the lieutenant, to be played by Phoenix. "As the faith begins to gain a fervent following, Freddie finds himself questioning the belief system he has embraced, and his mentor," the industry daily reported.

Whether this was originally part of the story or not, the new script has Hoffman as a shaken war veteran who creates the religion in the 50's, which, according to Deadline, "catches on with other lost souls."

L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, served in the Navy in World War II, and following his post-war release from the hospital, founded the belief system in 1952.

The group has a fervent following in Hollywood, including stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Clearly, they won't be a part of the film despite Anderson's talents; he's an Oscar-nominated writer/director, whose biggest hits include "Boogie Nights," "Punch-Drunk Love" and "There Will Be Blood."

For more, click over to Deadline.

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Filed by Jordan Zakarin  |