The fall out from the nearly year long pandemic continues in Hollywood. Paramount recently announced that they are changing the release plans for two of their films, Lee Daniels’ The United States vs. Billie Holiday and Damien Chazelle’s Babylon. The two films are taking different approaches to their new release plans. Both are similar shifts that have been prominent over the pandemic. Daniel’s will be headed to the streaming service Hulu, while Chazelle’s is being pushed back a year.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday was set for a February 26, 2021 release date, though recently Paramount has removed it from its release schedule after the studio sold the rights to distribution to Hulu. It is now safe to assume that the film will be released on Hulu at some point this year. This move does not come as a surprise, but it is sad to see more movies going to straight to streaming.
There are of course pros and cons to both, but directors have typically sided with keeping their films initial release in theaters. As of now, Lee Daniels has not made a comment. However, there has been a lot of success with straight to streaming films such as Soul, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and anything Netflix has released the last few years. The film stars Andra Day as Billie Holiday, Trevante Rhodes as Jimmy Fletcher, LaKieth Stanfield, Garrett Hedlund, and Melvin Gregg rounding out the cast. There is no set release date, though it will be exclusively streaming on Hulu later this year.
Damien Chazelle‘s latest film is being pushed back an entire year from December 24,2021 to December 25,2022, with wide release coming in January 2023. The picture stars Brad Pitt and possibly Margot Robbie. Set in 1920’s Hollywood, the film will be dealing with the jump from silent films to talkies. If Robbie does get confirmed for this film, it will be Pitt and Robbie’s second go in a historic Hollywood, albeit forty more years in the past from their Once Upon A Time in Hollywood counterparts.
Paramount is dealing with the back end of the pandemic differently with two of their bigger period piece films. Perhaps they are seeing which works better, but with Chazelle being the bigger name, it is clear they are still holding back their bigger films for a theatrical experience. Either way both directors have had successful films in the past and it will be interesting to see how these release changes effect the reaction to either film.