“Babylon” underperformed expectations at the box office over Christmas weekend, leaving industry insiders to speculate that the film won’t break even financially.
Damien Chazelle’s $80 million historical comedy-drama about the golden age of Hollywood starring Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie certainly had hype and promotion behind it. But moviegoers opted not to buy tickets to see “Babylon,” resulting in a lackluster $5.3 million four-day opening.
The film will need to earn $250 million to turn a profit, Deadline reported, meaning that now, most of that money will need to come from overseas. The publication noted that it’ll be almost impossible to achieve that amount even though one insider said the movie’s three hour plus runtime won’t be a hindrance in Europe like it is in the United States.
Despite being nominated for multiple Golden Globe awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Actor, the reviews of this movie are mixed from both critics and audiences. It currently has a 55% fresh critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 49% audience score.
The reviewer from Salon said watching “Babylon” was an “exasperating” experience, saying, “It tries to do too much but ends up doing not saying very little. Less would have been more.”
“What a sprawling, grotesque, self-indulgent, wretched, occasionally mesmerizing but ultimately over-the-top mess we have in Damien Chazelle’s Hollywood epic ‘Babylon,’ which one imagines was supposed to be a lurid and show-stopping and unvarnished celebration of the hedonistic madness that enveloped the movie business in the 1920s but comes across as a three-hour plus attack on our senses — a flashy, sometimes dazzling but curiously uninvolving and often nauseatingly gross spectacle,” Richard Roeper from the Chicago Sun-Times agreed.
He described some of the more graphic scenes in the movie, including an elephant defecating in the beginning.
“We’re also ‘treated’ to scenes of a woman urinating on an obese party animal; a sad-sack moron getting his head stuck in a toilet; a muscle-bound and crazed giant of a man munching on a live rat, and various showbiz types getting coked up and liquored up and on and it goes,” Roeper continued, saying “Babylon” will have you “feeling like you need to take a shower” by the end.
Being gross isn’t the only complaint people have about this hyped-up film about Hollywood’s history. “What’s really, truly embarrassing is how completely sure Damien Chazelle is that he’s absolutely nailing every scene in this movie,” one reviewer observed.
Many audience reviews mentioned that “Babylon” was “too long” and “boring,” plus didn’t have enough character development.