You may have been asking yourself, what’s next for Paul Thomas Anderson following his multiple-Oscar-nominated PHANTOM THREAD (2017)? The renowned filmmaker confirmed recently that he has completed a “pretty strong draft” for a sequel to his 1999 film MAGNOLIA, and that pre-production is already underway. The announcement seems timed to coincide with the film’s upcoming 20th anniversary (completed in ‘99, it was released theatrically in the first weeks of the year 2000).
MAGNOLIA, a sprawling ensemble piece set in and around Los Angeles (specifically the San Fernando Valley), is one of Anderson’s most enigmatic and perhaps least-understood films; its loosely-connected storylines, side missions into musical surreality, and 3-hour-plus running time ranks it among the auteur’s artsiest endeavors. However, the sheer star power of the original cast has always made a MAGNOLIA sequel a tantalizing possibility. Who will return? What will happen? Here’s all we know so far:
— Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, and Melora Walters, have all expressed their intent to return for the sequel. Anderson elliptically stated, “Most of them will be coming back in their original roles.”
— The film’s opening prologue will be dedicated to the late Phil Seymour Hoffman and Jason Robards, whose relationship (with Hoffman playing the in-home caregiver to Robards’ dying patriarch) arguably forms the emotional core of MAGNOLIA. (MAGNOLIA’s extended prologue was a particular sticking point for some critics, and remains a truly “they don’t make ’em like that anymore” moment in modern cinema.)
In a nod to the stylized lowercase-only poems of e. e. cummings, the title of the second film’s title will be written specifically as “magnolia part two.” (Which, honestly, is only upsetting to style guides, and possibly to auto-capitalization-reliant writers around the world.) The subtitle? “Ventura Boulevard” — a reference to the far-reaching street which parallels Magnolia Boulevard in Anderson’s native San Fernando Valley. It’s also possibly a bankshot nod to SUNSET BOULEVARD, the seminal Los Angeles noir that now exists dually as a classic film and a stage musical.
So that was a long way of saying the official title seems to be:
“magnolia part two: ventura boulevard.”
— Anderson has hinted that magnolia part two will be set in “real time” (that is, about 20 years after the first one) so as to make reference to the political upheaval of the last two decades in the characters’ lives. (One Reddit user claiming to have read an early version of the script insists that Julianne Moore’s character Linda Partridge has ascended to become President of the United States, but this is entirely unconfirmed.)
– Actual story details are scarce, but what else should we expect from the sequel to one of the purely surreal anti-blockbusters of our time? Anderson has coyly made mention of “the prevalence of sushi restaurants” being key to the sequel’s story.
Aimee Mann will return to write original songs for the soundtrack, featuring collaborations with Jon Brion, Philip Glass and Fiona Apple. As of this writing, it seems Brion will return as composer, although Anderson did not rule out the idea that Jonny Greenwood (who has scored all of Anderson’s feature films since 2007’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD) might also contribute to the score. Rumors aswirl that other members from Brion and Greenwood’s extended musical family might contribute, including David Byrne, Michael Penn, and Thom Yorke, but none have yet been confirmed.
THE RELEASE DATE
Although film release dates are always subject to change, sources at Warner Bros confirm that magnolia part two: ventura boulevard currently is slated for theatrical release on April 1, 2020.