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Paramount Inks First Look Deal With ‘Babylon’ Director Damien Chazelle

Ahead of the opening of Damien Chazelle’s $80 million early-Hollywood opus Babylon, the Brian Robbins-run Paramount Pictures is doubling down on the filmmaker and his producer wife Olivia Hamilton with a multi-year, first-look directing and producing deal with their Wild Chickens Productions.

The studio has been a huge champion of Babylon, screening it as early as mid November with the world premiere this Thursday in Hollywood. The pic, which stars Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt and Diego Calva among others notched five Golden Globe noms yesterday including Best Picture. The movie opens wide on Dec. 23 and tracking has the pic at a $18M opening over four days.

Babylon marks Hamilton’s first feature producing credit. Previously, she produced, wrote, directed, and starred in the film Surrogate, which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Hamilton also ran the LA theatre group PLAY, which she founded in 2013 and for which she served as creative director. She previously appeared in Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot, First Man, and The Last Tycoon, and plays film director Ruth Adler in Babylon. She also stars in Babylon.

“Damien is one of the rare auteur filmmakers making an indelible mark on the theatrical landscape, and it’s a testament to this studio’s best-in-class production, marketing and distribution teams that he and his producing partner, Olivia, have decided to make Paramount Pictures their creative home,” said Paramount Pictures President and CEO Brian Robbins. 

Added Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Group Co-Presidents Daria Cercek and Michael Ireland, “We are already full speed ahead on this collaboration with the upcoming release of Babylon, which really showcases just why we’re in the Damien and Olivia business. Their brilliance and originality embody Paramount’s long legacy of bold and fearless filmmaking, and we couldn’t be more grateful that they’ve chosen us as partners in bringing daring, cinematic stories to audiences everywhere.” 

“We are honored to join the Paramount family. We are grateful to Brian, Michael and Daria and everyone at Paramount for believing in us, the value of original storytelling and the theatrical experience,” said Chazelle and Hamilton.

Paramount Pictures

Chazelle has been conceiving Babylon, about how the 1920s motion picture industry was rocked from the talkie era, for over a decade. Chazelle took the Oscar for Best Director (the youngest ever to win) for La La Land and reteams with that pic’s 2x Oscar winning composer Justin Hurwitz. The pic was also produced by Hamilton with Marc Platt and Matthew Plouffe. Babylon‘s five Golden Globe noms include Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Margot Robbie), Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Diego Calva), Best Performance by an Actor in a supporting role in any Motion Picture (Brad Pitt), and Best Original Score in a Motion Picture (Justin Hurwitz.) 

Chazelle’s La La Land earned 14 Oscar nominations, winning six awards. The film also won a record-breaking seven Golden Globes and was also honored with five BAFTA wins and 11 nominations. His 2014 film, Whiplash received five Academy Award nominations and three wins, including Best Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons. His 2013 short, based on the Whiplash screenplay, won the Short Film Jury Prize at Sundance, and the following year the feature film took home both the Jury and Audience Awards from the festival. Chazelle made his first feature, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, as an undergraduate student and the film premiered at Tribeca Film Festival.

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