According to Deadline, Universal has said thanks-but-no-thanks to Paul Thomas Anderson's latest project, The Master—a film set to star Philip Seymour Hoffman as an L. Ron Hubbard-esque cult leader and, potentially, The Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner as his protege. Before we all scream "Scientological conspiracy," it's reported that Universal balked at Anderson's $35 million budget, not the subject matter. (Or so they say…) Here's a recent script synopsis from The Playlist:
The Master is the story of a charismatic intellectual who hatches a faith-based organization that begins to catch on in America in 1952 called The Cause. The core dynamic centers on the relationship between The Master and Freddie Sutton, an aimless twenty-something drifter and alcoholic who eventually becomes the leader’s loyal lieutenant. As the faith begins to gain a fervent following, Freddie finds himself questioning the belief system he has embraced, and his mentor.