Damien Chazelle's 'Babylon' Finds A Home At Paramount After Being Reworked; Brad Pitt And Emma Stone Still In Talks To Star

Damien Chazelle, who became the youngest person to win the Best Director Oscar for La La Land, his love letter to Hollywood, is returning to Tinseltown for his next movie. Babylon will be a tale set in the film world in the late 1920s, as the industry transitions from silent features to sound. Brad Pitt and Emma Stone are still in talks to play the lead roles, and now the project has found a studio home at Paramount.The Hollywood Reporter says Paramount has scooped up Babylon and given it a limited release date of December 25, 2021 with a wide release planned for January 7, 2022. Translation: the studio sees definite Oscar potential for this one.

THR has a loose description of the plot:

The story is said to be set in the late 1920s, during the movie industry's transition from silent films to talkies. The rise and fall of fictional and historical characters figure into the proceedings. If deals are made, Stone would portray Clara Bow, the early sex symbol and box office star who was Hollywood's first "It" girl. Pitt would play a fictional character, a silent film star who fails to make the transition to the new technology; sources say he is based on real-life figure John Gilbert.

Sounds a lot like The Artist, the 2011 film in which Berenice Bejo played the rising star and Jean Dujardin played the silent film star who is overshadowed during the transition. That movie won five total Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, and Best Actor, but the voting body of the Academy has changed a lot since 2011, so it remains to be seen whether another nostalgic throwback will land in the same way this time – especially only ten years removed from something with such distinctly similar subject matter.

Chazelle began shopping this around to studios last summer, and despite the pedigree of the project, most balked at his 180-page screenplay and a budget in the $80-$100 million range. His most recent film, First Man, didn't exactly light up the box office, so there was some hesitation about another expensive period piece. But Chazelle reportedly reworked the script, removing about 30 pages and cutting down the budget in the process, giving Paramount enough confidence to give the movie a green light. This will be Chazelle's first time working on a film with that studio, having made his previous films with companies like Summit/Lionsgate, Sony, and Universal.