Ever since Michael De Luca took the reins of MGM as film group chairman, the studio has become a strong player in Hollywood, outbidding and acquiring many hot properties. MGM’s latest acquisition? Paul Thomas Anderson‘s 1970s San Fernando Valley movie, which MGM scooped up from Focus Features.

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The report comes from Deadline, saying that the film did not go into production prior to the industry-wide shutdown due to the ongoing pandemic. Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter reports that the move “isn’t stemming from Focus’ lack of desire to shoot but rather a budgetary issue.”

This is just the latest big acquisition by MGM, who has added several high-profile projects to their slate since Michael De Luca took reins of the studio earlier this year. Amongst the studios’ buzziest projects are “Project Hail Mary” starring Ryan Gosling and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Ridley Scott‘s “Gucci” starring Lady Gaga, George Miller‘s “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” James Gray‘s “I Am Pilgrim,” and David Robert Mitchell‘s first superhero movie, “Heroes & Villains.”

Tapping high-profile filmmakers seems to be MGM’s new strategy, according to MGM motion picture group president, Pamela Abdy (via Variety), saying “If you look at the projects we’ve been announcing and securing, the one thing in common with all of them is a director at the center who has real authorship.”

At a time when many studios seem to be reluctant to spend money due to the pandemic, MGM is outbidding its competitors and quietly building a prestigious release date more akin to A24. Sure, the studio still has its big franchises like “James Bond“, “Bill and Ted,” and “Candyman,” but mixing these with more arthouse projects can make MGM a big player in the industry.

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Of course, De Lucas is no stranger to running a studio, as he spent his time at New Line Cinema championing such filmmakers as David Fincher, F. Gary Gray, and Paul Thomas Anderson himself, turning out several highly successful movies. And as a producer, De Luca has earned Best Picture Oscar nominations two years in a row with “The Social Network” and “Moneyball.”