There was very little advertising for Babylon A.D. up until just a couple of weeks ago, but the real kicker is that last week the director himself slammed Fox Studios. Fox produced and is releasing the movie, and he says that executive meddling has ruined the film.
So I'm asking: If Babylon A.D. bombs, will it be the failure that flatlines Vin Diesel's career for good?
Over at Rotten Tomatoes, Babylon A.D. currently has 28 reviews posted so far, with a rotten level of only 7% of them being positive. OUCH! Plus, director Mathieu Kassovitz (Gothika and the insane and insanely good La Haine) has been complaining about the way Fox (mis-) treated the film from day one.
Depending on various sources, 15-30 minutes was allegedly cut from the film in order to make it more appealing to American audiences. (Rumor has it there will be a longer version for the international release.) And, as often happens, that 'trimming process' is said to have left the film's plot in shambles. That's part of Kassovitz' complaints, though he says it all started in the scripting phase.
It also doesn't help that Fox didn't pre-screen the movie officially to critics, which is always the telltale sign of a flop. Fox has already had a bad year at the movies, (they had the lowest box office take for Summer '08) and it doesn't help that they've riled up fanboys over the whole Watchmen lawsuit. (For more on the Babylon A.D. fiasco with some juicy Kassovitz quotes, be sure to check out yesterday's mid-week wrap-up.)
So what to make of all of this?
It seems to be Fox's fault that Babylon A.D. is going to be D.O.A., and the movie's failure is certainly not going to help Vin Diesel's career. Vin's white-hot streak seemed to have hit the brakes after the disappointing box office returns of Pitch Black sequel The Chronicles of Riddick all but killed a potential franchise; though that franchise may yet crawl out of the grave (more on that in a minute).
Diesel was huge after the one-two-three punch of Pitch Black (2000), The Fast and the Furious (2001) and the rotten-but-box-office hit xXx (2002). Vin Diesel was on his way to becoming the kind of bonafide action star not seen since the 80's. Once Riddick failed (but did great as a video game, which has a sequel coming out soon), he did very few movies. Other than the surprise box-office-hit family movie, The Pacifier (2005), Vin hasn't had much in the way of films since 2004.
Babylon A.D.'s Vin Diesel in Chronicles of Riddick
And Babylon, A.D., once touted as his return to the top, isn't going to help him. Maybe the quiet roll-out in late August (a dumping-ground for movies much like January) won't hurt too much. He had a cameo in The Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift as Dominic Toretto and will reprise that role, headlining the The Fast and Furious 4 which hits theaters next summer.
Add to that the fact that Pitch Black and Riddick's talented writer/director David Twohy is said to be working on a third and fourth film in the Riddick series. Vin says this will end up being a separate trilogy from Pitch Black, which introduced the character. For more, check out our coverage.
Fans of Vin Diesel still have much love for him, and I think a large part of it is because we don't have a solid action star filling his spot right now. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson hasn't done a straight-up action film in quite a while and he's not likely to return to the genre. It's easy to imagine why fans would love to see Vin do well again. That and the fact that he's a talented actor, who just can't seem to reclaim his glory after Riddick bombed and xXx failed to please.
But then this is America: Land of second chances. Here's hoping Vinny makes good on the second go around.