BREAKING: Paramount has acquired world rights for Babylon, a script that Damien Chazelle has written to direct as his next film. His La La Land star Emma Stone is circling to star with Brad Pitt. The actor deals aren’t yet done, but the plan is for them to team in an original R-rated drama that is set in a shifting moment in Hollywood, when the business was turning from silent films to talkies. Studio has dated it for Xmas Day, 2021 for limited release, broadening January 7. That is an Oscar-bait slot so the aspirations are large here.
The project was first shopped in July, when Pitt was about to open opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and before Stone was readying the Ruben Fleischer-directed Zombieland: Double Tap with Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson, and filming the title role in Disney’s Cruella. It was described then as a bold auteur piece with a significant budget, and Paramount established itself as the frontrunner early. The rebounding studio has been aggressive in committing to ambitious films, most recently a film Deadline broke on The Bee Gees with Sister, GK Films and Amblin, with The Two Popes and Bohemian Rhapsody scribe Anthony McCarten scripting. Deadline broke the McCarten news last week.
The budget and period setting makes it a bold play by Paramount, but recent lackluster openings of established franchises indicates that fresh IP is not a bad way to go. Chazelle most recently directed First Man with Stone’s La La Land co-star Ryan Gosling.
The project was shopped as Netflix greenlit another golden era Hollywood film in Mank, with David Fincher directing a script his father Howard Fincher wrote about Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, with Gary Oldman playing the scribe in a drama that chronicled his battles with Orson Welles on the classic film.