Emma Stone is circling a starring role in director Damien Chazelle's new original drama Babylon. At just 34 years old, Chazelle is already one of the premier filmmakers of his generation. He burst on to the scene back in 2014 with Whiplash, an indie festival darling that landed a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars and won J.K. Simmons an Academy Award. Chazelle reached new heights in 2016 with the hit musical La La Land, which received a record 14 Oscar nominations (ultimately winning 6) and grossed $446 million at the worldwide box office. Stone, of course, took home Best Actress that year for her performance.
Last year, Chazelle returned with the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man, which on-paper had all the makings of being a major player on the awards circuit. Though First Man was critically acclaimed, it struggled to find an audience at the box office, and fell short of initial expectations. It only earned $105.6 million worldwide against a production budget of $59 million, becoming the first disappointment in Chazelle's young career. Fortunately, he's going to get a chance to rebound very soon.
According to Deadline, there's currently a hot bidding war going on for Babylon, which is described as "an original drama that is set in period Hollywood." Chazelle wrote the script and is planning to direct. Stone is eyeing the starring role, though no additional details about her part are available at this time. Babylon plot specifics are virtually nonexistent, but it is not another musical.
One of the more interesting aspects about Babylon is that it's said to have a "significant budget," indicating it won't be cheap to make. That's fascinating, since Chazelle's name is not exactly a sure bet at the box office and there's no guarantee Babylon will be a La La Land-sized smash. Still, in the era of mega franchises, remakes, and reboots, it's encouraging that studios are still willing to take a chance on something like Babylon, which will likely appeal mainly to cinephiles and older moviegoers who have fond memories of classic Hollywood. Considering how brilliantly Chazelle paid homage to the old school movie musical with La La Land, he should be right in his wheelhouse with Babylon, and it'll be exciting to see how the project shapes up.
Babylon certainly has potential to be a bounce back for Chazelle, at least in regards to awards recognition. The helmsmen was at the top of his craft on First Man, most notably with the awe-inspiring moon landing sequence, but didn't gain much traction on the Oscar circuit. There are few things Academy voters love more than movies about movies, so if Babylon hits all the right notes, Chazelle and Stone may find themselves in the running for more Oscars whenever Babylon hits the big screen.