No one likes being a party pooper, especially when you’re the one who’s supposed to throw the biggest year-end bash at the box office. Damien Chazelle‘s Babylon failed to get the party started at the domestic box office after a weak four-day launch of $4.85M. Analysts figured Chazelle’s cinematic fever dream would pull $5.3M in the United States and Canada. Still, someone must have killed the DJ because the celebration of old-school Hollywood is a non-starter.
While it’s easy to blame Winter Storm Elliot for Babylon‘s fall, harsh pre-release reviews of the film did little to help its chances. Babylon currently sits at 55% on Rotten Tomatoes, earning the drug-addled love letter to when days were golden a Rotten status on the Tomatometer. An Audience Score of 49% isn’t helping either, with many reviewers saying the film is a messy exploration of the era, with multiple storylines revolving around underdeveloped characters. While it’s essential to see the movie before rendering a verdict, sites like Rotten Tomatoes hold significant sway over general audiences. Things quickly turn grim when a flashy film like Babylon receives a C+ CinemaScore and PostTrak of 74% and 47% recommendation.
To make matters worse, Babylon clocks in at 3 hours! That’s almost as long as James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water. If people brave the weather for a cinematic experience, they will likely see the most significant visual spectacle since 2009’s Avatar.
Babylon‘s saving grace could come from the film’s overseas rollout, which is happening in mid-January. However, significant damage has already been done thanks to the film’s poor reception at the domestic box office and lackluster reviews. People who get paid to crunch numbers think Babylon could walk away from cinemas with a $250M worldwide total, but this amount is generous considering the room’s temperature. The global marketing budget sits at around $80M, when deducted from the estimated total, puts the movie at $170M. Add production costs and A-list actor salaries to the mix, and you’re looking at dismal returns.
Where do you think Damien Chazelle’s Babylon went wrong? Is Avatar: The Way of Water or bad weather to blame? Feel free to let us know what you think in the comments section.