The Director Of ‘La La Land’ Says The Failure Of ‘Babylon’ May Have Jeopardized His Future Films

Did you see Damien Chazelle’s Babylon in theaters? There’s a good chance you didn’t. A star-studded, pricey extravaganza about Hollywood’s chaotic transition to synch sound — it’s basically a hard-R, epic, downer version of Singin’ in the Rain, which makes a surprise cameo — it hit the nation’s theaters like a thud, grossing a measly $15 million. Some of us saw it in an otherwise empty theater! Chazelle’s CV includes the almost Best Picture winner La La Land — to say nothing of Whiplash — so surely his career isn’t toast. And yet he’s still unsure about his future.

Per Variety, Chazelle recently appeared on the podcast Talking Pictures, where he was blunt about how he’s doing post-Babylon’s failure, a year and change off.

“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. “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.”

Babylon — which stars Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt as silent-era movie stars who do not make the transition to synch sound, to put it mildly — wasn’t a hit with critics either, and it was ignored by the Oscars to boot. Maybe one day it will be redeemed; swing-for-the-fences doozies like Babylon often are. But for now Chazelle can’t ignore its stink.

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

Before Babylon, Chazelle reunited with La La Land co-star Ryan Gosling for the Neil Armstrong docudrama First Man, which didn’t bomb but did underperform. Perhaps he’ll return to smaller films like Whiplash and get back on top. Or perhaps viewers will eventually reclaim Babylon after streaming it on Paramount+, where it currently lives. After all, it’s got Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt.

You can listen to Chazelle’s Talking Pictures appearance below.

(Via Variety)