Paramount has decided to open Damien Chazelle‘s Babylon wide on 12.23…terrific. Variety‘s Rebecca Rubin: “Sources close to Babylon suggest the earlier release date points to the studio’s confidence in the film”…maybe.

Paramount could also be figuring it’s safer to sell the big, broad elements than depend on early-break word of mouth. Who knows?

What are the main elements? An epic-sized capturing of a wild, crazy time. Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie in the ’20s. A splashy old-time Hollywood epic about change and convulsion. Orgies, elephants, cocaine and all manner of perversity.

Martin Scorsese will hate me for this, but HE is asking for predictions about how well Babylon will do with Joe and Jane Popcorn. Film mavens will eat it up, of course, and even from this distance it seems assured of several Oscar noms (including Best Picture). But how will Millennials and Zoomers respond?

It doesn’t look like streaming fare — it almost looks like something out of the Ben-Hur factory…call it Ben-Twisted…emphatic, ambitious, large-scale, orgiastic..something you really need to see on a big-ass screen..

From a certain angle it seems like a descendant of John Schlesinger‘s The Day of Locust (’75). Not the same kind of package as Babylon (a darker one actually), but vaguely similar in certain big-scale, crowd-scene respects, and it certainly seemed lavishly produced when it came out. Production costs were around $5 million, or $27.5 million in 2022 dollars.

Babylon cost $78 million.