EXCLUSIVE: Fox has acquired an untitled pitch that will be written and directed by Damien Chazelle, the breakout writer/helmer of the Sundance Film Festival sensation Whiplash. Shawn Levy and his 21 Laps banner will produce. The logline is being kept under wraps, but it is said to be a high-concept and character-driven genre film inspired by the paranoid thrillers of the 1970s.
Chazelle expanded his Sundance short film Whiplash into a feature, and it sold to Sony Pictures Classics after it won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance in January. The film also got a raucous reaction at Cannes in the Directors’ Fortnight section. It has been a busy period for Levy and 21 Laps. After they made a record-breaking Cannes deal when Paramount paid $20 million for North American and China rights to the Eric Heisserer sci-fi thriller Story Of Your Life (Denis Villenueve will direct Amy Adams), 21 Laps reteamed with Heisserer on the sci-fi thriller Understand, which sold to Fox. Dan Cohen and Will Rack will oversee this new project for 21 Laps, and Mark Roybal and Sarah Schweitzman will oversee for Fox. Chazelle, who is expected to next direct La La Land with Emma Watson and Whiplash star Miles Teller, is repped by WME, Gary Ungar, and Don Steele.