Babylon Flopped At The Box Office, And Damien Chazelle Knows This Is Going To Impact How His Next Movie Is Made

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Written By Maya Cantina

It’s no secret that in Hollywood, a filmmaker’s creative freedom for their next project is often determined by the box office success of their previous work. This is the case with Damien Chazelle, whose last film was Babylon. If you’re a fan of the bombastic flick, then you’re in good company because even Stephen King praised the picture, saying it’s bound to be a cult classic. Still, unfortunately, audiences and critics areacted poorly to Chazelle’s period piece, which underperformed financially. Despite the film being one of Margot Robbie’s best movies, in my estimation, it flopped at the box office. Now, the director is opening up about how this blunder will affect his next project, another Hollywood period piece.

In a candid interview with Ben Mankiewicz on the Talking Pictures podcast, the 39-year-old director shared his reflections and anticipations concerning his next project in light of his latest film’s outcome. He admitted to having been somewhat disconnected from the immediate fallout due to his focus on writing. As he tells it:

I’ve been head in the sand. I’ve been sort of busy writing. So I’ll get a real taste of how it’s changed or not [since ‘Babylon’] once I get to finish this script and try to actually get it made. I’m in a sort of trepidatious state of mind, but I have no illusions. I won’t get a budget of ‘Babylon’ size any time soon, or at least not on this next one.

Damian Chazelle seems to recognize that the evolving entertainment industry is a harsh reminder of how significantly Hollywood’s artistic potential is linked to its financial success. So he anticipates a reduced budget for his next movie, considering how, despite Babylon‘s star-studded cast star-studded cast featuring the likes of Robbie and Brad Pitt, it didn’t perform. Still, he is uncertain whether this financial limitation will be advantageous or detrimental. He added:

Certainly, in financial terms, ‘Babylon’ didn’t work at all. You try to not have that effect what you’re doing creatively, but, at some level, it can’t help but affect it. But maybe that’s okay? I have very mixed mind about it. Who knows. Maybe I won’t be able to get this one made. I have no idea. We’ll have to wait and see.

Babylon (which is streamable with a Paramount+ subscription) is set in Hollywood in the 1920s, during the transition from silent movies to talkies. The story follows two main characters – Jack Conrad (played by Brad Pitt), a famous actor, and Nellie LaRoy (played by Margot Robbie), an up-and-coming actress – as they navigate the challenges of adapting to this transformative era. The film features a notable supporting cast, including Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, and Tobey Maguire (who has a conversation-starting arc), who portray the diverse experiences of individuals in Hollywood’s changing times.

Considering the scale of the movie and its performance at the box office, it is logical that Damien Chazelle’s next film will be much smaller. While his 2022 effort has received mixed reviews, with supporters and detractors, it has achieved a 57% rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, along with a 52% Audience Score. In CinemaBlend’s Babylon review, our own Eric Eisenberg gave the movie 3 out of 5 stars.

Damian Chazelle seems optimistic about pursuing his artistic vision, albeit with adjusted expectations. No specifics about the themes of his upcoming movie have been revealed, but it’s unlikely to be part of the 2024 movie schedule. Moving forward may require recalibration, but the La La Land filmmaker’s track record, for being one of the directors who made a killer movie the first time, speaks for itself and suggests he’s up for the challenge.


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