After months of bidding, Paramount has come out on top in a battle of the studios for Damien Chazelle‘s next project. The studio has acquired the worldwide rights to Babylon, an original drama set in period Hollywood. Chazelle’s La La Land leading lady, Emma Stone, along with Brad Pitt, are circling to star. The film is not another musical as originally rumoured.
It’s being described as “a bold auteur piece with a significant budget”, set in a shifting moment in Hollywood when the business was turning from silent films to talkies. A Christmas Day 2021 release is planned for an obvious Oscar push.
Paramount was reportedly an early frontrunner as soon as the film was first shopped back in July. The studio has been aggressive in committing to ambitious films. They’ve also got a Bee Gees biopic in the works, to be penned by Bohemian Rhapsody screenwriter Andrew McCarten. Although considering that film’s box office return, perhaps any music biopic can’t be considered too risky or ambitious right now.
Still, it’s great that Chazelle – despite losing money on his last film, the excellent First Man – is still getting the chance to make bold, original films. Despite typical box office totals this year from expected Disney powerhouses, projects with well-known IP haven’t always performed well. Perhaps studios are finally getting the idea that not everything can be a reboot of an old franchise.
Hopefully Stone and Pitt do indeed sign on. We’ll likely hear plenty more about Babylon in the coming year.