After ‘Babylon’ Flop, Damien Chazelle Knows He ‘Won’t Get a Budget of That Size Any Time Soon’ and ‘Maybe I Won’t Be Able to Get’ Next Film Made

Oscar winner Damien Chazelle confirmed on the “Talking Pictures” podcast (via World of Reel) that he is currently at work writing his new movie, which would mark his follow-up to 2022’s “Babylon.” As many cinephiles know, “Babylon” was one of the biggest studio disasters in recent memory. Made for a budget in the $80 million range, the Paramount-backed Hollywood epic flopped with only $15 million at the domestic box office and $63 million worldwide despite A-list star power from Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie and Chazelle himself coming off his Oscar-winning “La La Land.”

“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,” Chazelle said on the podcast when asked if his relationship to Hollywood has changed after the flop. “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.”

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“Certainly, in financial terms, ‘Babylon’ didn’t work at all,” he continued. “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.”

Chazelle provided no details on what his new movie entails. “Babylon” was set in Hollywood during the 1920s as the silent movie era transitions to talkies. Acting legend Jack Conrad (Pitt) and rising superstar Nellie LaRoy (Robbie) struggle to adapt to the new era as a rapidly-changing Hollywood threatens to leave them behind. The ensemble cast also featured Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, Tobey Maguire and more.

While audiences gave “Babylon” the cold shoulder, film critics were fiercely divided over Chazelle’s vision. Variety’s Peter Debruge called the film an “exuberantly messy look at La La Land’s early days — an acid spin on ‘Singin’ in the Rain,'” adding: “‘Babylon’ feels like the last of a certain kind of movie: epic, extravagant and so unreasonably expensive, it would’ve taken pre-pandemic moviegoing habits to make its money back.”

Listen to Chazelle’s full appearance on the “Talking Pictures” podcast below.

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