“Babylon” Needs Overseas Box Office To Save It

“Babylon” Needs Overseas Box Office To Save It

Babylon has become the lowest-grossing wide release opening ever in the U.S. for lead actress Margot Robbie. The period comedy-drama from Oscar-winning writer-director Damien Chazelle, marks her second box office bomb in a row, after Amsterdam also flopped at the box office during its opening weekend, Deadline is reporting.

The Golden Globe Award-nominated actress’s latest movie failed to live up to its opening box office prediction. The film, which cost a reported $80 million to make, only grossed $4.85 at the domestic box office this past four-day weekend, instead of its anticipated $5.3 million, .

Babylon, which was greenlighted by executives at Paramount Pictures who are no longer working at the studio. However, the 1920s-set Hollywood epic comedy-drama was greatly supported by Brian Robbins, the new president and CEO at the company.

But the movie’s potential financial success in theaters waned after it received lackluster reviews as soon as it was previewed to critics more than a month ago at the Academy theater. Combined with a poor reception from audiences who saw initial screenings of the film and its three-hour running time, the feature’s opening weekend box office prediction was significantly lowered.

In order for it to be profitable, Babylon, which also marks the lowest grossing opening weekend for a movie in which Brad Pitt served as a lead actor, it needs to earn approximately $250 million at the worldwide box office. The current domestic prediction for Babylon’s final domestic box office total is $20 million. That puts an immense amount of pressure on overseas markets to garner the $230 million needed to net Paramount a profit on the film.

The high box office total needed to make the film profitable is a result of its global marketing cost also totaling about $80 million, the same as its production cost. But Paramount will now scale back its worldwide marketing costs on the movie after it flopped during its American opening weekend, despite it being nominated for five Golden Globes.

The film is on a 45-day theatrical window. After it finished its theatrical release, it will be distributed on Paramount+ before its Epix pay TV window.

Paramount took a risky chance in making Babylon, as it’s an inside-Hollywood period tale that features a hard-R story. Movies about the inner workings of Hollywood have historically seen low box office ticket sales, and its budget made it almost impossible for it to achieve profitability for the studio.

Chazelle and the film’s producers, Olivia Hamilton and Matthew Plouffe, brought it to Paramount, when Wyck Godfrey was the president of the Motion Picture Group. Godfrey, who had a talent for making awards season movies, “responded to it and became that champion,” Chazelle said on Deadline’s Crew Call podcast. “He fought hard to shepherd the movie into the studio. Without him, I’m not confident it would be a Paramount movie.”

After Godfrey left, former Paramount production boss Emma Watts took over the overseeing of Babylon. She aimed to get it into production before she left in September 2021.

The filmmakers originally planned to start production in March 2020. But after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, production on the project didn’t start until July 2021 in Santa Clarita.

Production was also delayed because Emma Stone, who won an Academy Award for starring in Chazelle’s La La Land, was originally cast as the female lead. But she had to exit the project due to a scheduling conflict in December 2020. Robbie then signed on to star in Babylon.

Despite the movie’s poor reviews, there has been speculation about the possibility of Robbie receiving her third Oscar nomination for her role as Nellie LaRoy, an aspiring actress, in the feature. Despite finding flaws in numerous other areas of Babylon, many critics have praised the actress’ performance.

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.

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