‘The Master’ will premiere at Venice – is Toronto next?

Long rumored, but discounted by some, the Venice Film Festival has officially announced that Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” will make its highly-anticipated premiere at the prestigious European fest.

Anderson’s follow up to the Oscar-nominated “There Will Be Blood,” this new drama centers on a young drifter (Joaquin Phoenix in comeback mode) and the founder of a cult-like religion (Philip Seymour Hoffman) which is beginning to finally gain traction with the general public.  The filmmakers and their surrogates continue to deny the connection between the fictional religion and Scientology, but as more footage is revealed the allegory is becoming harder to discredit.  The picture also features Amy Adams and Laura Dern.

The Weinstein Company is releasing “The Master” in the United States and recently moved the film’s limited opening up to Sept. 14.  Along with the Venice news, it’s a slam dunk that the film will also screen at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival which takes place a week before its release date.

After relatively quiet Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, the prestige marketplace is starting to bubble with major awards season players.  “The Master” joins Ben Affleck’s “Argo,” “The Impossible,” “Hyde Park on the Hudson,” “Cloud Atlas,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina” as potential Oscar players debuting at either festival. Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder” and Mike Newell’s new adaptation of “Great Expectations” are two films without domestic distribution that could enter the fray following their festival debuts.

Look for continuing coverage of the Venice, Telluride and Toronto Festivals from HitFix’s team of film contributors beginning next month.