A major newspaper is claiming that the Church of Scientology has been "ratcheting up its opposition" to an award-winning film in which the chief antagonist is said to be based off of the church's founder.
The New York Post reports that "sources" have told them that the Weinstein Company has received strange emails and phone calls in opposition to "The Master," a soon to be released movie that many have claimed is based off of the life of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of scientology.
"Calls and mail from people believed to be Scientologists to Weinstein's office have grown numerous enough that some on the film's team have hired extra security, a source said," reads the New York Post's "Page Six" article.
"Weinstein had already been under close guard following a recent attempt to blackmail him by a man unrelated to the film."
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master" gained several awards on Saturday at the Venice Film Festival.
According to Internet Movie Database, the plot focuses around a World War II navy veteran who creates a faith organization to find meaning to his life. As his following grows, a young man who became a close follower begins to question the belief system of the founder, known as "The Master."
The film has gained controversy in some circles, as many believe the central character, Lancaster Dodd, is based off of L. Ron Hubbard. According to Zeba Blay of the website Digital Spy, Tom Cruise was given a special screening of the film. Cruise is said to have "had issues" with the movie's content.
Rumors have also circulated that Cruise attempted to stop production of the film, but representatives for the actor deny these claims.
While the film's producers have not stated the film is meant to be an anti-scientology story, one former Scientology follower believes there is much similarity between Hubbard and the character Dodd.
Marc Headley, author of the book Blown for Good – Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology, wrote a column for the Daily Beast in July noting 22 similarities between Hubbard and Dodd based on the screenplay he "managed to get."
"Of course, these comparisons are based on the screenplay. There are two trailers for The Master out right now and one of them is straight out of this screenplay and the other is not," wrote Headley.
"Unless Anderson's team rewrote the dialogue for the entire movie, most of these comparisons should be to what you will see in the film when it opens in October."
Comparisons Headley wrote based on the screenplay included both Hubbard and Dodd having a navy background, going by their initials, espousing conspiracy theories regarding the American Psychological Association, operating a counseling center in Phoenix, Ariz., and referring to their beliefs as the "religion of religions."
At present, the Church of Scientology has not posted an official statement on their website regarding their opinion of "The Master."