‘The Lost City’ romantic comedy adventure Sandra Bullock-Channing Tatum Paramount

In what is a record opening during the pandemic for a female-driven feature, Paramount’s Sandra Bullock-Channing Tatum romantic comedy adventure The Lost City is opening to $31M after a $11.55M Friday and $11.8M Saturday.

While the older female demographic has been known to be cautious about moviegoing during the pandemic, they indeed showed up at 61% overall, with those over 35 repping close to half the crowd. Previously, over Valentine’s Day weekend, two-glossy female targeted movies tried to deliver, but did not in their openings: Death on the Nile ($12.8M) and Marry Me ($7.9M).

Moreover, give it up for an original piece of content opening at the box office off of sheer star power, and not brand IP. “It’s kind of a throwback,” says Paramount Domestic Distribution Boss Chris Aronson this morning. “But it shows that movies still matter.”

“This is very much a crowd-pleasing movie, and it points toward people want to laugh and they want to be entertained after the last two years we’ve been through,” added Aronson about feature comedy’s return at the B.O.

Lost City‘s debut ranks second for Paramount during the pandemic, behind A Quiet Place Part II ($47.5M). It’s the studio’s third movie to open at No 1 this year, after Scream and Jackass Forever.

In the switch-off from Jim Gianopulos to Brian Robbins as Paramount Studios boss, the latter was immediately painted by the media as a guy who was primed to embrace theatrical day-and-date, as Paramount Global board chair Shari Redstone looked to mushroom the studio’s fledgling streaming service Paramount+. Not true: This guy isn’t going to burn down a great theatrical slate to keep warm. His talent and experience is in building franchises, and that’s on the streaming and the theatrical side.

As the box office bounces back, industry executives are reminded about the riches inherent in the ancillary model, especially in the streaming age. Even though Marvel departed Paramount for Disney a while ago, the former studio is still franchise-rich in its Nickelodeon, Hasbro, etc. IP, and that’s currency which will go a long way for a long time. Even the younger-skewing stuff, when made at the right price, is a box office cash cow.

Talking to Deadline at SXSW, Bullock said that she had read Lost City a few years ago, “But I said ‘No’, this is outdated, it had been on the shelf for seven years.”

“Then it was brought back to me by Elizabeth Raposo, who was at Paramount at that time, and she said, ‘You can do what you want with it.,” adds the Oscar winning actress, who is also a producer there.

“As soon as you’re given that allowance, you can see things that you couldn’t see before, because there weren’t a bunch of attachments to it,” adds Bullock.

She called producer Liza Chasin to develop the project, and they found their hook in Couples Retreat and Cruella scribe Dana Fox.

“You know how hard it is to find a writer with this tone of action, comedy, drama, it’s not easy, and Dana Fox is one of the top writers for that very reason,” says Bullock. The Nee Brothers, who were hot around town with their VFX pitch of Bumblebee, won Chasin and Bullock over, with the film ultimately shooting down in the Dominican Republic during Covid for a reported net budget of $68M.

“Sandy set out to make a movie to entertain people, and boy, did people respond,” adds Aronson.

Bullock didn’t speculate on a sequel at interview time. However, if she’s making something that’s greater than Lost City, it’s with Fox.

Lost City‘s weekend number is in the range from other Bullock pre-pandemic openers, such as the comedy The Heat ($39M) and The Proposal ($34M). It’s a number many in distribution circles were expecting, and continues to prove that theatrical isn’t broken, especially for comedies and female-driven fare, which have largely been jettisoned to streamers. Comedies still work on the big screen, and Lost City played like a rock concert during its world premiere at SXSW at the Paramount Theatre on March 12.

Box office analytics corp EntTelligence clocked 935K admissions for Lost City‘s opening day, and 2.6M admissions for the weekend. The average ticket price for the pic was $11.66. The major circuits didn’t upcharge on Lost City like they did for Batman. Saturday matinees were strong for Lost City, with over 46% of the audience coming before 5PM. Approximately 36% of the audience came between 5PM and 8PM, and 18% came after 8PM.

The Lost City overperformed west of the Mississippi, and was at norm in the Southeast. Canada repped 7.54% market share on 8% of total locations. Top markets that overperformed included Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Denver, Tampa, Minneapolis, Portland OR, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Albuquerque, Honolulu, and Oklahoma City, while the top markets that under-indexed include NY, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Boston. Top grossing theaters hailed from LA, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, NYC, San Antonio, Phoenix, Pharr TX, OKC, El Paso, Denver, Nashville, Dallas, Canton OH, Colorado Springs, and Toronto.

Premium large format screens, we hear, are driving 21% of ticket sales. Diversity demos were 61% Caucasian, 21% Latino and Hispanic, 6% Black, and 7% Asian. Cinemascore here is a B+, with 81% on PostTrak and a 61% recommend, which is very good for this type of movie right now. Rotten Tomatoes’ audience meter is a bit higher at 86%.

Ahead of opening, social media monitor RelishMix spotted positive conversation for Lost City, with those online “making unending comparisons to Romancing the Stone and The Jewel Of The Nile — with enthusiasm for the playful onscreen chemistry of Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, and boiling screams of joy for Brad Pitt.” Total reach across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok combined is 125.3M social media followers, “exceeding genre norms for action-adventure-comedy movie,” says RelishMix, with Tatum posts spiking with a super Instagram post at 3.1M views, plus a solid stack of YouTube materials driving 56.6M views.

Tatum is the social media champ here for the pic, engaging 45.6M fans, and driving cast activation on the film at 96%, while also repping 36% of the pic’s entire SMU reach. Other cast members Bullock, Daniel Radcliffe, and Brad Pitt are hot topics in social chatter, but are socially off-the-grid.

The Lost City campaign launched with a trailer in December with a custom intro by Bullock, Tatum, and Radcliffe, which ultimately yielded over 170M views to date. Ad spots ran during the Winter Olympics and Super Bowl LVI. iSpot estimates that Paramount spent $27M on TV ads stateside across NBC (27.8%), ESPN (6.6%), CBS (4.9%), ABC (4.8%) and Food Network (4.3%), with ads also running on Survivor, Sports Center and Today.

Final Sunday reported studio figures:

1.) The Lost City (Par) 4,253 theater Fri. $11.55M, Sat $11.8M, Sun $7.65M, 3-day $31M/Wk 1

2.) The Batman(WB) 3,967 (-335) theaters Fri $5.5M (-49%), Sat $9.1M, Sun $5.9M, 3-day: $20.5M (-44%) Total $332M/Wk 4

3.) RRR (Sarigama Cinemas) 1,200 theaters, Fri $5.4M, Sat $2.5M, Sun $1.6M, 3-day $9.5M/Wk 1

4.) Uncharted (Sony) 3,416 (-284) theaters, Fri $1.3M (-42%), Sat $2.2M, Sun $1.3M, 3-day $5M (-36%)/Total $133.5M/Wk 6

5.) Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (Crunchy) 2,400 (+103) theaters, Fri $1.3M (-85%), Sat $1.88M, Sun $1.39M, 3-day $4.58M (-69%)/Total $27.6M/ Wk 2

6.) X (A24) 2,920 (+55) theaters, Fri $715,5K (-60%) 3-day $2.2M (-48%)/Total $8.3M/ Wk 2

7.) Dog (UAR) 2,839 (-468) theaters, Fri $578K (-51%), Sat $987K, Sun $543K, 3-day $2.1M (-47%)/Total $57.8M/Wk 6

8) Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony) 2,003 (-582) theaters, Fri $505K, Sat $915K, Sun $580K/3-day $2M (-35%)/Total $800.5M/Wk 15

9.) Sing 2 (Uni/Ill) 2,626 (+788) theaters, Fri $290K (-28%), Sat $620K, Sun $370K, 3-day $1.28M (-12%)/Total: $160.2M/Wk 14

10.) Infinite Storm (BST) 1,525 theaters, Fri $269K, Sat $299K, Sun $182,5K, 3-day $751,2K, Wk 1

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