The Master preparing for attack
There are two stories about religious groups up in arms over films at the moment and thankfully this story doesn't involve the murder of innocent people, however I will come to that one. This story is about The Master, the film from Paul Thomas Anderson that he admits was modelled on the science fiction author and cult leader L. Ron Hubbard.
The film has been gaining all manner of praise and while that praise has been rising so have the eyes of the suited Scientologists who, according to inside reports, are about to power up a campaign against the film.
It seems rather strange to me as The Master and those behind it are clearly not saying that it's a film about scientology or the founder of the religious organisation/cult, and while the writer/director will admit that L. Ron Hubbard was the inspiration for the character the film is not about Scientology and it looks to the relationship between the film's central character who begins the cult and his first follower. The film isn't an investigation into Hubbard or Scientology.
However that doesn't appear to be stopping the religious group who, according to a report in the New York Post's Page Six through The Guardian, Scientologists are increasing their pressure on the distributors and are also planning to start campaigning against the film itself.
Apparently The Weinstein Co. have been receiving more and more calls from Scientologists complaining about the film, calls that the article describes as "strange", and it claims that the organisation are preparing plans to "combat" the film when it is released.
The good news is that they aren't doing something as bloody minded and uneducated as protesting against and government buildings and murdering innocent people and government officials, however it does seem like they are increasing pressure using marketing.
Where The Master adverts are appearing so are Scientology adverts apparently countering the film's message, which if it's online won't be too hard because there are so many mentions of the keyword that their adverts would appear anyway. Not that this is really the part that seems to be worrying the production company for according to the report they've hired extra security and there was mention of a blackmail attempt too.
It's all a bit hazy at the moment but it does seem as though the Scientologists are taking offence to the film and standing up against it somewhat. It's not really a surprise that this is happening and shouldn't be to the production company or Anderson himself, but it's all good marketing isn't it?
Mind you it's not as if the film needs the marketing as the reviews coming are mainly very good and the reception at Venice has been excellent, well apart from in the awards that is.
According to The Hollywood Reporter through The Guardian the jury was set to give the top award of the Golden Lion to The Master but weren't allowed and were told to give it to another film. The reason dates back to rule changes made in 2009 when a rule was made that a single film couldn't win more than two major awards and so with the directing award going to Paul Thomas Anderson and the acting award jointly to Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, they couldn't give the top film award to The Master as well no matter how good it was or that the Jury all decided to.
Still, like the publicity regarding Scientology, I don't think this film needs it. It's going to attract the audiences regardless and anything Scientologists do to try and stop it will just give it more headlines and headlines that according to the film-makers isn't really what the film is about.
We know it is though.