Babylon A.D.

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  • Directed By: Mathieu Kassovitz
  • Written By: Mathieu Kassovitz, Éric Besnard, Joseph Simas
  • Release Date: August 29, 2008
  • Domestic Distributor: FOX
  • Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Mélanie Thierry

Box Office Info:
Budget: $70 million Financed by: FOX; StudioCanal
Domestic Box Office: $22,532,572 Overseas Box Office: $49,576,036

“Pure violence and stupidity.”
–Director Mathieu Kassovitz talking about Babylon A.D.

The budget for Babylon A.D. was originally $60M, but a mess of a production and studio interference saw the budget balloon to $70 million.  FOX and StudioCanal co-financed.   Production halted for two weeks to “sort things out” according to Producer Ilan Goldman and that break from filming added over $1 million in expenses.

An on set documentary recorded director Mathieu Kassovitz’s troubled shoot titled F-cking Kassovitz (you can find it on youtube and part of it is in English and French) which was obviously not included by FOX or StudioCanal on their DVD/Blu-ray releases as an extra.  While Kassovitz was certainly not the type of personality to helm a movie through the studio meat grinder system, he does come across as very arrogant.  Even if the shoot went smooth, it’s doubtful this sci-fi actioner would have amounted to anything interesting — it’s a Vin Diesel vehicle, not an auteur film.

FOX first dated Babylon A.D. for February 29, 2008 and then delayed this stinker until the slow Labor Day frame on August 29, 2008.  Mathieu Kassovitz disowned Babylon A.D. and publicly railed against the film in the days leading up to its release, describing the finished product as “pure violence and stupidity.”  Along with the bad publicity, FOX only screened the movie for select critics and withheld screenings from most publications.  The reviews that eventually posted were awful.

Babylon A.D. was tracking poorly and was booked into 3,390 theaters and pulled in $9,484,627 — placing #2 behind the holdover Tropic Thunder.  Audiences gave Babylon A.D. a rare and hateful D+ cinemascore and it sank 55.9% in its second frame to $4,180,570 and fell 55.4% in its third session to $1,864,585.  The domestic run closed with only $22,532,572.  FOX would see returned about $12.3 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would leave much of the P&A costs in the red and the budget untouched by the theatrical receipts.

Overseas, StudioCanal distributed in France, which posted the strongest numbers at $8 million.  The film pulled in mediocre to poor numbers in most markets with a $49.5 million total, across numerous distributors.

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