After Babylon, Damien Chazelle admits his next film might not happen

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Following the huge financial disappointment of 2022’s Babylon, Damien Chazelle states that he’s not even sure if his next script will get made.

Damien Chazelle is at an interesting point in his career. Up until 2022’s Babylon, everything the director’s previous three films had earned critical plaudits or made lots of cash. In the case of Whiplash and La La Land, those two films did both and solidified Chazelle’s reputation as one of a handful of directors set to revive Hollywood’s output and lead a new generation of American filmmakers.

However, the last few years have seen something of a bump in the road for Chazelle.

Following his Oscar for Best Director in the wake of La La Land, Chazelle has made 2018’s First Man and then 2022’s Babylon. The former didn’t exactly set the box office on fire but it did enough, and picked up some critical praise. However, things completely derailed at the tail-end of 2022 when Chazelle released Babylon, an expensive epic charting the early days of Hollywood.

The film starred Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Diego Calva and its budget has been slated as somewhere between $80 – $110m. However, at the global box office it only recouped around $60m of that back. Worse still, it found itself almost completely shut out of that year’s awards circuit.

It’s worth noting that this doesn’t necessarily make Babylon a ‘bad’ film by the way. It’s ambitious, expansive, beautifully-made and well worth seeking out. However, the film’s failure to connect with audiences means that one of the leading lights of his generation is now facing a more uncertain future as he pens his next project.

Damien Chazelle has admitted as much to TCM’s Talking Pictures podcast, stating that the film’s financial failure could effectively brick his next project, stating “certainly, in financial terms, Babylon didn’t work at all.”

Chazelle said that “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 a 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.”

Damien Chazelle suggests that he hasn’t really come to terms with the film’s failure on a personal level either, adding that he has instead simply put all of his focus into working on the next project. “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.”

As we don’t yet know the scale of Chazelle’s ambitions for his next project, it’s impossible to guess just how likely he is to find a studio that will back him. Still, quality will always shine through and there’s no doubt that the Whiplash filmmaker has bags of the stuff. We’ll bring you more on Damien Chazelle’s post-Babylon project as we hear it.

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