Toronto Film Festival booking will allow Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" to kick off awards season and capitalize on Scientology's media attention in the wake of Tom Cruise's divorce
Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," a prestige September release that had been conspicuously missing from the announced lineups of the Toronto and Venice film festivals, will indeed make its North American premiere in Toronto, TheWrap has learned.
According to a person with knowledge of the film's release plans, "The Master" has been added to the Toronto lineup as a special presentation.
The Weinstein Company declined to comment to TheWrap, and representatives of the Toronto Film Festival did not respond to requests for comment.
Also read: 'The Master' Opening Moved Up to Sept. 14
Earlier on Monday, Deadline reported that the film was added to the lineup at Venice as well.
Last week, the Weinstein Company moved the release of the film, in which Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a charismatic religious leader at least partially based on Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, from Oct. 12 to Sept. 14.
The festival bookings will place the film in the thick of the awards race, which unofficially launches with the Venice, Telluride and Toronto festivals. It will also premiere at a time when Scientology has been receiving massive media attention in the wake of the divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
The Toronto Film Festival runs from Sept. 6 through Sept. 16; Venice takes place from Aug. 29 to Sept. 8.
Weinstein opted to move up the release date of "The Master" as soon as Anderson finished the film, his first since the Oscar-nominated "There Will Be Blood."
The move was one of a few recent changes in the fall release landscape. Steven Spielberg's previously unscheduled Disney/DreamWorks film "Lincoln" has now been slated for a Nov. 9 release, while Warner Bros. moved "Gangster Squad" – which is hardly a competitor for the same audience as "The Master" – from Sept. 7 to Jan. 11.
Those moves helped clear space for "The Master," and Weinstein made an additional change by pushing its release of Andrew Dominick's "Killing Them Softly," which was originally scheduled for Sept. 21, to Oct. 19.
Asked whether the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes divorce had an impact on moving up the release date, the source close to the film said, "Well, it sure as hell helps."
In May, TheWrap reported that Anderson screened the film for Cruise in hopes of heading off a conflict with Scientology. Cruise, who starred in "Magnolia" for Anderson, "had issues" with parts of the film, according to two individuals close to the film.
Weinstein has won the last two Best Picture Oscars, for "The King's Speech" and "The Artist."