«Making films is either a utopia or it’s like shoveling shit up a mountain.»
The truth behind this statement by Sean Connery should have already been recognized by many filmmakers who have teamed up with the funding studio because of their specific vision for a film put on. In addition to famous examples from film history, this was also the case more recently with “ Babylon AD .”:
Director Mathieu Kassovitz prepared «Babylon AD», which will be broadcast on RTL Nitro this Tuesday evening at 10 p.m., for years with a lot of passion — but finally cursed his work after a quarrel with the studio 20th Century Fox.
It was «pure violence and stupidity,» he told AMC at the time , adding, «Parts of the movie are like a bad episode of ‘ 24 ‘.» What happened?
«Vin Diesel is a cream puff»
At the start of «Babylon AD» shooting in 2006, Kassovitz had already been working for several years on his adaptation of the sci-fi novel «Babylon Babies» and had attracted attention outside of France with films such as «Hass» and «The Purple Rivers», so that Fox eventually a major studio agreed to finance his next film.
But after this positive start, the situation quickly took a turn for the worse: Vincent Cassel («Black Swan»), who Kassovitz actually favored as the main actor, was replaced by Vin Diesel at the request of the studio , but the director and actors didn’t get anywhere:
Apparently, Diesel’s behavior brought production to a standstill several times — and Kassovitz reacted increasingly aggressively. This was reported by the New York Post offshoot Page Six , among others . Apparently, the dislike ran quite deep — even years later, in an interview with the French SoFilm , the director called the actor a «windbag» who «is not capable of anything».
20th Century Fox At War with the Director: Vin Diesel in “Babylon AD”
However, individual quarrels were not the only problem during the shooting of «Babylon AD»: The weather and oversized set constructions delayed production by several weeks and caused the budget to burst at the seams. 20th Century Fox wasn’t too thrilled about this and «revenged» it after filming wrapped:
The studio had the film cut significantly — against the will of the director, who then refused to support the PR for the launch of «Babylon AD» in any way.
Whether it was the chaotic filming or the bickering between Diesel, Kassovitz and Fox, the film eventually flopped at the box office (only $72 million worldwide on a budget of $70 million) and made most Reviews didn’t go down well (only six percent positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes ).
» «Babylon AD» at Amazon *
FILMSTARTS saw things a little differently at the time — and at least attested to the film’s «excellently staged action, a good cast and a forward-thinking story».
FILMSTARTS review of «Babylon AD»
Anyone who wants to take a closer look at the catastrophic shooting of the film (and knows French) will find the documentary » Fucking Kassovitz » on YouTube, which captures the painful process of making the film, primarily from the director’s point of view:
This is a re-release of an article previously published on FILMSTARTS. *The link to the Amazon offer is a so-called affiliate link. If you make a purchase through this link, we will receive a commission.