Margot Robbie Blamed For This Year’s Worst Blockbuster Flops
Margot Robbie starred in Amsterdam and Babylon, the largest flops of the year, and she's being blamed over her co-stars because her track record, is frankly, not that good.
Margot Robbie has been having a rough few months at the box office, with David O. Russel’s Amsterdam flopping back in October, and this month’s Babylon doing even worse numbers. Deadline published a report on how historically bad Babylon is doing, and while that fact can not be contested, it is worth discussing that Robbie is not the only star attached to either film, though she is the only one that’s part of both of them. Christian Bale and Brad Pitt are avoiding most of the blame for the two films costing their studios roughly $150 million, each, so why is the blonde bombshell getting the blame?
The case for Margot Robbie taking the blame over her co-stars was hotly debated on social media, with an excellent Twitter thread put up by YouTuber Grace Randolph, making the case against Robbie. Randolph is a voting member of the Critic’s Choice Association and recognized by Rotten Tomatoes, so she is an expert when it comes to discussing film. In short, the Australian actress has yet to actually star in a hit movie on her own, was pushed as the lead of Babylon while Brad Pitt is in a supporting role, and the historic money loss on both movies, back to back, is almost without precedent in Hollywood.
While no actor has a perfect record, even Tom Hanks has a few box office failures on his resume, the case can easily be made that outside of an ensemble, Margot Robbie has yet to perform on her own. As mentioned on Twitter, Birds of Prey, released to theaters a month before the Covid pandemic hit, was also a box office bomb. Keeping the name, and adding Harley Quinn to the subtitle, may have confused audiences and hurt the box office, but then again, the Suicide Squad breakout character was all over the marketing, making it impossible to realize she wasn’t a big part of the film.
While her last two DCU films, Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squad, failed to perform at the box office, they were at least major hits for HBO Max. Amsterdam has not posted any significant streaming numbers, while Babylon, already a hard sell based off of its topic, is unlikely to do any better. There’s still a small chance that the overseas numbers for Margot Robbie’s latest could pull it into profitability, but it will have to make $246 million to do so, after only making $4.85 million in its opening weekend.
All of the explanations, from poor marketing to stories unlikely to make people leave their homes and head into theaters, fall away in the harsh light of cold hard cash. The lack thereof in this case, while Babylon is an incredible financial bomb, Amsterdam has made, worldwide, only $31.2 million against a budget of $80 million, which does not take marketing into account. Not even Pauly Shore’s 90s classics, In the Army Now and Son in Law bombed that badly, and those were a year apart, not three months as is the case for Robbie’s films.
Margot Robbie now needs Barbie to be a blockbuster success in order to get a much-needed win in her acting career. The star has to show the world what she can do away from the character of Harley Quinn, though her prominence in the James Gunn DCU is already assured by the new Co-CEO. Early trailers, production photos, and general word of mouth are all pointing towards success for Barbie, which unlike Amsterdam and Babylon, has the power of one of the most famous toys in the world behind it.
Brad Pitt and Christian Bale earned their right to walk away unscathed from flops, having already endured plenty during their time as leading men. The directors for Amsterdam and Babylon, David O. Russel and Damien Chazelle, also have lost studios millions, but they also have brought in Oscars and critical acclaim. Margot Robbie is only 32, she is still young and has plenty of amazing movies still left to make, but she needs to prove her that she can lead a film, star in a blockbuster of her own, and then she’ll earn the benefit of the doubt.
Barbie, Margot Robbie’s next chance, and maybe her last, debuts July 21st in a prime Summer blockbuster spot. If the film succeeds, maybe that Pirates of the Caribbean film moves up in priority for Disney, but if it fails, maybe Robbie is destined to always be an ensemble highlight? Away from Harley Quinn, away from Leonardo DiCaprio, will we be able to see the actress succeed on her own merits?
For what it’s worth, a lot of people are rooting for her, but unless Margot Robbie can convert that fanbase into butts in the theater, she may just be perennially stuck with the one of the worst labels in Hollywood, “potential star.”