Everything you know about serious indie filmmakers is wrong. There is a belief that these guys, the Independent Spirit Awards crowd, are above mainstream blockbuster filmmaking (hell, I know that people get shocked when these dudes admit to LIKING blockbusters), but the reality, I think, is that they are above the way studios grind out movies. I think a lot of these filmmakers would love to have $150 million to make a fun action or scifi movie. We've been seeing this happen more and more - look at David Lowery doing Pete's Dragon, Rian Johnson doing Star Wars, Alex Ross Perry doing Winnie the Pooh.
Well, add Paul Thomas Anderson to this list. He's writing - and possibly directing - the live action Pinocchio that Robert Downey Jr is putting together for Warner Bros. Downey will play Gepetto and PTA is the latest in a string of writers that Downey has brought on to crack the script - Bryan Fuller, Jane Goldman and Michael Mitnick all did passes. PTA and Downey are pals, and Downey only dropped out of Inherent Vice because of scheduling conflicts, not personal ones.
I think that Downey has the power to insulate PTA from the larger studio machine. I've talked to some filmmakers who have walked into the studio machine and, when they have the right protector/godfather they find the process invigorating. There's a lot of money and a lot of support and a lot of resources, which are all good as long as you don't have some dipshit suit breathing down your neck the whole production. That is what keeps a lot of indie filmmakers from making the leap, I think: the horror stories of lack of control and punishing interference from above. It's a rare filmmaker who doesn't want more money and a bigger audience.
A PTA Pinocchio? I love it. It feels thematically right up his alley, and I am excited to see what he could do with a budget north of a hundred million dollars (if he does direct it). I'd love to see him take on the system and win, producing a truly great all-audience blockbuster based on one of the most beloved stories ever. What a switcheroo.