Paramount has officially removed Lee Daniels‘ The United States vs. Billie Holiday from its theatrical calendar and dated Damien Chazelle‘s Babylon for a December 2021 limited release. The move comes after The United States vs. Billie Holiday was reported to be heading to Hulu.
Deadline reports that Paramount is shuffling its awards season releases — both for this current season and the year after. Lee Daniels’ biographical drama, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, was originally set to hit theaters on February 26, 2021, but financier New Slate Ventures sold the film to Hulu for a streaming release. While it was not confirmed whether the film would get both a streaming and theatrical release, Paramount has officially pulled it from its theatrical calendar, making it a Hulu-exclusive debut.
Separately, Paramount announced that Damien Chazelle’s Hollywood period drama Babylon, which stars Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, has been set for a limited theatrical release on December 25, 2022. The film will receive a wide release on January 6, 2023. Produced by Olivia Hamilton, Matt Plouffe, Marc Platt and Tobey Maguire, Babylon is an R-rated period drama set “in the shifting moment in Hollywood when the industry turned from silent film to talkies.”
Paramount acquired the project in late 2019 with an initial plan of setting it for a Christmas Day 2021 awards-qualifying release, but obviously pandemic reasons have delayed that. But even with nothing in the can yet for Babylon, it’s clear that Paramount is looking at the film to be a big awards contender. And with the talent attached — Once Upon a Time in Hollywood co-stars Pitt and Robbie, and awards season darling Damien Chazelle, likely getting to spotlight jazz again — it’s not a complete surprise.
Which is more than you can say for its dropping of The United States vs. Billie Holiday, which has been downgraded from a February theatrical release to straight to Hulu, and in the middle of the winter graveyard season at that. The film follows Holiday early in her career as she is “targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair” and is Daniels’ return to feature filmmaking after 2013’s The Butler.