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Paramount has picked up Babylon, Damien Chazelle’s drama set in the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Brad Pitt and Emma Stone are in talks to star in the project, but no deals are set.
Marc Platt, who produced Chazelle’s La La Land, is one of the producers on Babylon, as is Olivia Hamilton, Matthew Plouffe and Tobey Maguire.
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.
Paramount’s acquisition of Babylon has been a slow-cooking deal. Chazelle took his project to the studios and movie companies in June, and while there was immediate interest due to the pedigree, many had second thoughts on the script, which clocked in at a massive 180 pages, and a budget in the $80 million-$100 million range. A period drama from the filmmaker who was coming off of First Man, which engendered acclaim but was little seen, was deemed risky. Sources say Chazelle spent time reworking the draft, thus reducing the budget.
Paramount is now all in on Babylon, having set a Dec. 25, 2021, limited release before expanding it wide on Jan. 7, 2022, giving the project awards playability.
Pitt, repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners, is generating awards buzz for his work in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
Stone, repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Ziffren Brittenham, is currently on screens in Zombieland: Double Tap and is in production on Disney’s Cruella.
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