EXCLUSIVE, UPDATED: We hear that Paul Thomas Anderson’s new 1970s San Fernando Valley movie is jumping from Focus Features to MGM. Neither studio would confirm, but we know it’s a deal that’s going down, according to sources. The production is leaving the Universal specialty label that made his Best Picture Oscar-nominated period feature Phantom Thread, which grossed nearly $48M worldwide. CAA Media Finance represents the new film.
The Valley movie did not go into production prior to the shutdown of feature productions during the COVID-19 pandemic. I understand that the project’s move from Focus to MGM wasn’t contentious; that it wasn’t necessarily about budget (Phantom Thread was made for an estimated $35M), and more about Anderson getting filming underway as soon as possible. I understand Universal could still be involved with the movie, likely on foreign; the major studio is already handling overseas on MGM’s No Time to Die this fall.
Focus Features originally was set to distribute the movie domestically with Universal handling foreign distribution. Focus in 2017 released Anderson’s London fashion designer movie Phantom Thread, which racked up six Oscar noms including Best Picture, Director, Best Actor Daniel Day-Lewis, and took home a win for Mark Bridges’ 1950s costumes.
Reportedly Anderson’s new movie will center around a high school student who is also a successful child actor, but have intersecting storylines. It’s the fourth time that Anderson has set a film in the San Fernando Valley, the last titles being Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch Drunk Love. The filmmaker’s Ghoulardi Film Company have already received a $2.5M California film tax credit. Anderson directed, wrote and is producing the movie.
Anderson throughout his filmmaking career has been nominated for eight Oscars.
Anderson is repped by CAA and Jackoway Austen Tyerman Wertheimer Mandelbaum Morris Bernstein Trattner & Klein.