EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: I can add that Brad Pitt also is circling Babylon, the early-Hollywood period drama that is likely to reteam La La Land filmmaker Damien Chazelle with Emma Stone. Sources confirm that Pitt also is in the mix, though neither he nor Stone has made a commitment. I’ve also heard that Babylon is a drama that mixes real and fictional characters and is solidly in the R-rated category. Pitt is about to open opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in the Quentin Tarantino-directed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It’s one of the most impressive screen turns for Pitt in a long time.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 7:45 AM PST: Several studios are lining up for Babylon, a script that Damien Chazelle has written to direct as his next film. I’m told that Lionsgate, which distributed the 14 Oscar-nominated La La Land, is considered the front-runner to land a project described to me as an original drama that is set in period Hollywood at a shifting moment when the business was turning from silents to talkies. Emma Stone, who along with Chazelle won an Oscar for her work in La La Land, is circling to star. Sources said the film is a bold auteur piece with a significant budget and that other studios are in the mix. Rumor was Chazelle had written another musical, but I’m told that is not the case here.
More from Deadline
At a moment when the Hollywood box office is being dominated by sequels and live-action reboots of animated Disney films, Chazelle’s film is a breath of fresh air, something to get excited to leave the house to see. I expect it to land quickly once a series of meetings between the filmmakers and all the studios are completed. It is a commitment, though, and that is why the auction is playing out methodically. The film will be produced by Olivia Hamilton, Matt Plouffe, Marc Platt and Tobey Maguire. Stay tuned.
This comes after Netflix stepped up to greenlight 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.
Chazelle nest recently directed First Man, a drama worth another look in the 50th anniversary of the historic moon landing. He separately is set up to exec produce an event series at Apple TV.