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Margot Robbie … Box Office Poison?

'Babylon' star has beauty, talent and media adoration, but she can't draw a crowd

It’s brutal starring in one of the year’s most notorious flops.

Margot Robbie knows the feeling. Twice.

The 32-year-old Oscar nominee headlined “Amsterdam” in October. The film, directed by David O. Russell, cast Robbie as a nurse in the early part of the 20th century alongside co-stars Christian Bale and John David Washington.

The film flopped, hard, and may cost its studio from $80-100 million. Still, flops happen, especially with auteurs like Russell who like swinging for the fences.

Amsterdam | Official Trailer | 20th Century Studios

It couldn’t happen to Robbie again though. Could it?

“Babylon,” which cast Robbie as an aspiring actress in Hollywood’s early days, may make “Amsterdam” look successful by comparison. The film, co-starring Brad Pitt, made $3.5 million over the Christmas weekend, historically a ripe time for a film to open.

“Babylon’s” price tag, reportedly around $80 million, means the film will cost its studio plenty … like “Amsterdam” before it.

The nation’s arctic blast certainly didn’t help theater attendance, but that didn’t stop “Avatar: The Way of Water” from earning an additional $90 million over the same span.

Making matters worse?

“Amsterdam” earned $6.4 million on its opening weekend, considered a terrible number at the time given its starry cast and Russell’s track record.

This isn’t the only time a Robbie vehicle crashed at the box office. “Birds of Prey,” the Feb. 2020 film featuring the starlet as Harley Quinn, similarly stalled. That film earned just $84 million stateside, an atrocious figure for a superhero-style affair.

Robbie played the character once more in 2021’s “The Suicide Squad,” the second attempt to bring this supervillain saga to the screen. That ensemble caper, released simultaneously on HBO Max and theaters during the pandemic’s second year, brought in just $55 million.

Robbie was front and center in 2017’s “I, Tonya,” the black comedy recalling Tonya Harding’s infamous attack on Nancy Kerrigan. Robbie earned the first of her two Oscar nominations for the film, but that earned just $30 million at the box office.

I, Tonya Trailer #1 (2017) | Movieclips Trailers

Her 2018 indie film, “Terminal,” doesn’t even appear at regarding its U.S. box office results.

She fared better with 2018’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” the Quentin Tarantino film co-starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Pitt, but her role as Jane in “The Legend of Tarzan” failed to ignite a franchise. 

Robbie’s beauty and acting chops aren’t up for debate. Her ability to draw a crowd is, though, and it’s something her peers routinely face. Pitt’s presence didn’t salvage “Babylon’s” box office fortunes, nor did it catapult his 2022 action comedy “Bullet Train” into franchise gold.

So where does that leave Robbie’s next major film, “Barbie?”


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A post shared by BARBIE (@barbiethemovie)

The 2023 comedy casts the actress as the iconic toy, and so far the project has generated sizable social media buzz. And that’s the difference. “Barbie” hails from an existing IP, a toy beloved over the decades by generations of young girls.

It doesn’t matter who plays Barbie in the film. It will draw a crowd and out-earn “Babylon” and “Amsterdam” combined. And that’s even if the film disappoints, which is always a possibility.

Robbie’s terrible 2022 is just the latest sign that movie stars no longer guarantee ticket sales.


  1. Someone here typed that it isn’t Robbie’s fault but the films. That is true. Babylon & Amsterdam were both too long & equally unappealing in their stories. Margot Robbie fares much better financially in more humane stories ala Once upon a Time, Focus, Bombshell etc.
    I was one of the few fans of the Suicide Squad & thought she was terrific as Harley Quinn. The film was a hit but not very liked by the huge comic society. Hence why the other two Harley Quinn stories didn’t make the box office not to mention the pandemic kept many away from the theaters. I am actually looking forward to Barbie.

  2. It isn’t her fault. She didn’t write the movie. She is a brilliant actress!!!! She played the role impeccably..

  3. After “Wolf Of Wall Street” Robbie was a refreshingly new, blonde, blue-eyed sex symbol.
    Following two “Suicide Squad” features and “Birds of Prey”, she unfortunately typecast herself as a degenerate, moronic, baseball bat wielding’ Harley Quinn’ skank.

    It will only take more soft and sweet nudity for audiences to recognize her considerable acting chops again.

  4. It should be noted that this movie is not for mainstream audiences with explicit and debauched content. Maybe that’s why many stayed away from especially during Christmas. They should have released it during Halloween.

  5. This has nothing to do with Robbie. “Babylon” is a very long, messy film about a topic few people have an interest in. Add to that bad reviews and you’re not going to get people to the theater. Nice try on the sensational article title tho.

  6. I would say her Harley Quinn strip in the suicide squad trailer was responsible for nearly every dollar that movie made. This was after wolf of Wall Street.

    Now they don’t sell her sexy in the trailers and, well, a lot of her aopeal is left behind.

  7. She has the “Jessica Chastain” box office magic. These women are non-entities. The public either don’t know them or care. The sad truth is only men can sell movies. That’s why Woke is so debilitating. Non traditional casting gets poor results. Nonetheless, Brad Pitt is likely past his prime in Babylon although he was quite good in Bullet Train.

    1. This was just such a good movie. It’s ironic you say past his prime (if you saw the movies end.) I thought it was magic. You should go see it.

    2. Spot on. Women can be appealing terrific actors, but they cannot pull in the audiences. They do not fit the heroic male lead architype that has been ingrained in human culture since forever. This does not get reversed by puerile feet stomping for sexual equity in movies. Women can sometimes break through this if their characters are macho men like without the equipment. But this role reversal has now become a cliché sendup that does not lead to top careers for women. It’s woke and boring. When the Chastain and her peers hit the wall, their careers usually tank for younger couch auditions.

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