Babylon had all the makings to be something special
After months of hype, Babylon has finally arrived. The reviews for the Damien Chazelle feature have been widely mixed; Some critics love the crazy and chaotic energy that comes with the film, which focuses on the wild 20s of Hollywood. The depravity grossed others out that Chazelle reveals in the film. One of the examples is a very long orgy filled with golden showers and other disgusting and crude acts that surprisingly didn’t push the film to NC-17. In fact, there’s a rumor that claims an NC-17 cut of the film exists. Nevertheless, when you read about Babylon on paper, the feature has all the tools to be truly memorable.
Chazelle is an Academy-award-winning director who has made a huge splash in the industry thanks to Whiplash. Before Babylon, Chazelle didn’t have a rotten tomatoes score as a director, as his films usually ranged from the high 80s to 90s. The film also featured an all-star cast that included Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Jean Smart. Chazelle isn’t much of a box office draw. La La Land was a smash hit, making over $400 million worldwide; however, his other films haven’t come close to garnering as much as that Best Picture nominee. Brad Pitt can be hit and miss, and Margot Robbie hasn’t had the best luck as of late.
Babylon failing to connect with the mainstream audience wasn’t a surprise
Babylon’s huge loss wasn’t much of a shock. Some outlets projected that the film could make as much as $18 million during the four holiday weekends. However, the Oscar hopeful ultimately collected a measly $5.3 million during the Christmas weekend. This film reportedly has a production budget of $80 plus, which doesn’t include the market costs.
This needed about $250 million to break even, and it doesn’t seem as if Babylon would get anywhere close to $50 million. Some blame the long runtime as Babylon is 3 Hours and 9 minutes. However, Avatar: The Way of Water is 3 Hours and 12 minutes, and it just passed the $1 billion mark in less than 14 days. Avengers Endgame and Titanic are in the top five of the highest-grossing films of all time, and they clock in well over three hours.
The possible reasons the film bombed at the box office
The point is that runtime isn’t as big a factor as critics believe it is. At the end of the day, audiences just simply wasn’t interested in Babylon. Why? There’s no clear reason. Though the film was depicted as graphic, not everyone was scared away over the copious amounts of sex. The Damien Chazelle feature had some strong advertisements, but people just weren’t interested in exploring the old days of Hollywood. They were stars attached to this film, but even they weren’t enough to bring butts to seats.
Margot Robbie is an interesting case as she’s fresh off another huge flop, David O. Russell’s Amsterdam; That star studded film ultimately lost $100 million due to its extremely weak box office run. Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squad were also notable flops that heavily featured the Oscar nominee. Is Margot Robbie not a box office draw? The films she’s done well in financially usually have an all-star cast like The Wolf of Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio; More importantly, these films don’t particularly feature her as the lead.
Babylon is an interesting case, but the 2023 Oscar season has been full of misfires. Films such as The Menu, Empire of Light, Tar, The Fablemans, The Whale, and She Said didn’t have the huge budget of Babylon, and none of them are huge hits either. At the end of the day, audiences just were too invested in these critically loved art house-type films.
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