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Scott Rudin to
team with Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson

Scott Rudin to
team with Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson

Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson is in advanced talks to produce and direct There Will Be Blood, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as a turn-of-the-century Texas oil prospector in the early days of the oil business. The sprawling period piece, which Anderson has spent several years writing, is loosely adapted from Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel Oil! Budgeted at more than $25 million, Blood will be jointly financed and distributed by Paramount's specialty films division and Miramax Films, according to Paramount specialty division president John Lesher. "It's an ambitious film and a compelling, relevant story about family, greed, religion, and oil," Lesher said. "Paul is an incredible talent, exactly the kind of filmmaker the new division wants to be in business with."

Openly gay former Paramount power producer Scott Rudin, who has shifted his base of operations to Disney, where he struck a new deal last year, was instrumental in bringing in Disney subsidiary Miramax, led by president Daniel Battsek, as a 50-50 partner on Blood. Paramount will handle domestic distribution, and Miramax will release the film in foreign territories, which could yield the lion's share of the final gross.

Anderson, whose most recent film was 2002's Adam Sandler vehicle Punch-Drunk Love, will produce with his partner, Joanne Sellar. Rudin and author Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) will executive-produce. Casting is under way for a shoot that is set to begin in May, Lesher said. Locations include Martha, Tex., and Albuquerque, N.M.

Lesher, a former Endeavor agent, is wasting no time lining up projects, many of them involving such former A-list director clients as Anderson. Going forward, Rudin and Lesher will have "joint custody" on some movies on an "ad hoc basis," Rudin said. Lesher should announce several more projects soon, as he and his team head this week into the acquisitions fray at the Sundance Film Festival. Lesher is also in the process of closing a deal for his new marketing chief. (Anne Thompson, Reuters)

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