Weekend Box Office: The Lost City Finds $31M and Reconnects with Missing Audiences

Photo Credits: Paramount Pictures ("The Lost City")

Paramount’s adventure comedy The Lost City debuted on top this weekend with an estimated $31 million, exceeding the openings of several other similar comedies from the past few years, including several pre-pandemic titles from 2017-19:

  • +3% above Men in Black: International ($30.0M)
  • +9% above Free Guy ($28.3M)
  • +15% above Zombieland: Double Tap ($26.8M)
  • +44% above Good Boys ($21.4M)
  • +45% above The Hitman’s Bodyguard ($21.3M)
  • +50% above Blockers ($20.5M)
  • +82% above Game Night ($17.0M)
  • More than double Dog, last month’s title which also starred Channing Tatum ($14.8M)
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Directed by brothers Aaron and Adam Nee, making their major-studio feature film directorial debut, City stars Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, and Daniel Radcliffe. The film’s release this weekend sought to reconnect audiences with an adult-skewing audiences in the post-pandemic era, seen as a litmus test for the viability of a major studio comedy in the streaming age. 

Demographics

The success of The Lost City was always going to come down to reconnecting with moviegoing audiences, particularly older females, thus reviving date night programming at the movies. The film was able to accomplish just that with an opening weekend audience was 56% female and 47% age 35+. 

According to Paramount, the film over-indexed in the western half of the U.S., came in at about expectations in the southeast, and under-indexed in the northeast. Notable over-indexing markets included Albuquerque, Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, and Tampa. Meanwhile, notable under-indexing markets included Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York City, and Philadelphia.

Paramount’s marketing team relied on the film’s star power to launch a pre-awareness campaign that included a YouTube trailer with custom intro from Bullock and Tatum which has already garnered over 170 million views. Trailers during the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl also helped boost awareness in key demos ahead of a talk show tour by cast members in the weeks leading up to release. 

“In many ways, this is a throwback movie with major stars and a terrific supporting cast in a genre that has been somewhat scarce in the theatrical marketplace,” Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at Paramount, told Boxoffice Pro editorial director Daniel Loria on Sunday. “At the end of the day, The Lost City became that catalyst to get part of our audience that has been more reluctant to go back to the movies—and older demographic, skewing female. This movie became the catalyst for them to do that. All in all, I think it’s a very positive sign for the theatrical business.”
 
The Lost City is the latest in a series of new titles released by Paramount in 2022 that has successfully engaged different parts of the moviegoing audience during a difficult Q1. 
 
“One of our strategies was to have a diverse slate. We felt strongly that each and every one of our movies  could reach our audience and market to that audience and deliver the goods,” said Aronson. “We had Scream and Jackass Forever. Now we have The Lost City. In a couple of weeks, we’re going to have Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which I think is going to be a major film for families and general audiences. And then we enter a much more robust release schedule with varied offerings. For me, that has always been the sign of a healthy marketplace: when there is something for everyone. Not just that one big superhero movie— obviously, there’s a huge market for that, but it’s not for everybody.” 

The Batman

In second place, Warner Bros.’ The Batman fell -44% to $20.5M in its fourth frame, after leading for the prior three weekends.

The film has now earned $331.9M. Through the same point in release, that’s:

  • -24% behind 2008’s The Dark Knight (441.6M)
  • -14% behind 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises ($389.5M)
  • +6% ahead of 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (311.3M)
  • +56% ahead of 2017’s Justice League ($212.1M)

[Read Boxoffice PRO’s recent article on a history of the Batman franchise’s box office history here.]

After the film had earned the majority of its earnings from domestic throughout its entire run, the balance finally tipped towards a majority-overseas earnings this weekend, at $340.9M of its $672.9M global total (50.6%).

Top overseas markets to date are led by the United Kingdom ($47.4M), Mexico ($28.0M), Australia ($24.1M), France ($22.2M), and China ($17.9M).

RRR

Sarigama Cinemas’ RRR – Rise Roar Revolt, a 3h 7m Telugu-language action film about Indian revolutionaries in the 1920s, claimed third place with a $9.5M start.

Playing in only 1,200 theaters, or less than one-third the reach of the top films in the marketplace, the film started -9% behind the $10.4M opening of fellow Telugu-language title Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.

Spider-Man: No Way Home Crosses $800M

Still ranking eighth place with $2.0M, despite now being available on digital platforms, Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home has now spent all 15 of its weekends in the top 10. That marks the most weekends since Frozen spent 16 such weekends in late 2013 and early 2014.

The last time a film spent 15+ weekends in the top 10 before Frozen? Chicago, which also spent 16 such frames in late 2002 and early 2003.

2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming spent 11 weekends in that tier, while 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home spent seven.

Home also crosses $800M this weekend, with an $800.5M domestic total. That ranks #3 all time, behind only 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($936.6M) and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame ($858.3M).

Sing 2

Universal’s animated Sing 2 notches its 14th weekend in the top 10, taking ninth place this frame with an estimated $1.2M. 2016’s original Sing spent eight weekends in that top tier.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once opened with an estimated $509,659 on 10 screens. That $50,965 per-screen average is the biggest of 2022 so far, beating the February 4 weekend $34,606 average of Neon’s The Worst Person in the World on four screens.

It’s also the fourth-highest average in the pandemic/post-pandemic era, behind the first two frames for United Artists’ Licorice Pizza ($86,289 and $60,426, both on four screens last November 26 and December 3) and December 17 debut of Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home with $59,995.

The genre-defying film Everything is directed by Daniels – the joint nickname of directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, who previously helmed Swiss Army Man – and stars Michelle Yeoh (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Crazy Rich Asians). It will expand nationwide two weekends from now, on April 8.

Oscars bump?

With the Academy Awards airing Sunday night, none of the Best Picture nominees came anywhere close to the top 10, but several experienced mild declines likely caused by Oscars buzz:

  • West Side Story fell only -4%, from $53K to $51K, despite almost increasing its screen count by +80% from 270 to 485.
  • Licorice Pizza dropped only -6%, from $165K to $153K, with a mere -8% screen drop from 507 to 462. (Meaning its per-theater average experienced a slight uptick, from $325 to $333.)
  • Nightmare Alley fell much further, dropping -35% from $28K to $18K, despite more than doubling its screen count from 270 to 485.
  • Warner Bros. did not release Sunday morning estimates for Dune or King Richard, which are playing on 460 and 454 screens nationwide this weekend, respectively.

Weekend comparisons

Total box office this weekend came in around $81.9M, which is:

  • +2% above last weekend’s total of $80.2M, when The Batman led for a third frame with $36.7M.
  • 4.6x the equivalent weekend in 2021 with $17.6M, as the box office was taking its first pandemic-era steps back to normalcy as Raya and the Last Dragon led for a third frame with $5.1M.
  • -45% behind the equivalent weekend in 2019 with $148.8M, when Us led for a second frame with $71.1M.

YTD box office stands around $1.30B. That’s:

  • -41% behind this same point in 2019.
  • -27% behind this same point in 2020. (The box office was essentially shut down for months starting at this point in 2020, so the 2022 YTD comparison will exceed it not long from now.)
  • 6.2x this same point in the pandemic recovery year of 2021.

Top distributors

As has been the case all year so far, the leading distributor in the domestic market remains Sony Pictures with $372.7M. Warner Bros. ranks #2 with $342.9M. 

While Warner Bros. has significantly closed the gap in recent weeks, it will be almost impossible for them to take the lead before Sony releases Morbius next weekend and pads its lead, especially since Sony’s Uncharted and Spider-Man: No Way Home will also continue to earn millions until then.

Disney seems poised to take the crown at some point this summer or possibly fall, particularly when including their subsidiary 20th Century Studios releases.

Paramount currently claims third with $171.7M and Universal claims fourth with $129.9M. 

Leading the month

The Batman has now earned about 57% of March’s box office thus far.

As Boxoffice PRO predicted earlier this month, The Batman seems potentially poised to exceed 50% of March’s box office by month’s end. That feat has only been accomplished by three films in the 21st century, two of them in the past year alone:

  • The Avengers (51.9% of the box office in May 2012).
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (54.7% in September 2021).
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (62.2% in December 2021).

Sunday’s Studio Weekend Estimates: March 25-27, 2022

Title Estimated weekend % change Locations Location change Average Total Weekend Distributor
The Lost City $31,000,000   4,253   $7,289 $31,000,000 1 Paramount
The Batman $20,500,000 -44% 3,967 -335 $5,168 $331,951,314 4 Warner Bros.
RRR: Rise, Roar, Revolt $9,500,000   1,200   $7,917 $9,500,000 1 Sarigama Cinemas
Uncharted $5,000,000 -36% 3,416 -284 $1,464 $133,550,542 6 Sony Pictures
Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie $4,575,435 -75% 2,418 132 $1,892 $27,719,156 2 FUNimation
X $2,229,531 -48% 2,920 55 $764 $8,298,028 2 A24
Dog $2,108,012 -47% 2,839 -468 $743 $57,874,950 6 United Artists
Spider-Man: No Way Home $2,000,000 -36% 2,003 -582 $999 $800,588,139 15 Sony Pictures
Sing 2 $1,280,000 -12% 2,626 788 $487 $160,256,880 14 Universal
Infinite Storm $751,296   1,525   $493 $751,296 1 Bleecker Street
Death on the Nile $658,000 -60% 1,300 -750 $506 $44,951,644 7 20th Century
The Outfit $560,000 -63% 1,328 4 $422 $2,732,990 2 Focus Features
Everything Everywhere All At Once $509,659   10   $50,966 $509,659 1 A24
Umma $460,000 -50% 805 n/c $571 $1,700,586 2 Sony Pictures
jackass forever $170,000 -67% 568 -331 $299 $57,663,732 8 Paramount
Licorice Pizza $153,920 -7% 462 -45 $333 $17,248,614 18 United Artists
Scream $145,000 -39% 213 -195 $681 $81,621,102 11 Paramount
Belfast $85,000 -23% 696 n/c $122 $9,200,240 20 Focus Features
The Worst Person in the World $85,000 -15% 216 77 $394 $2,914,379 8 Neon
Encanto $51,000 -28% 180 -125 $283 $95,998,860 18 Walt Disney
West Side Story $51,000 -4% 485 215 $105 $38,502,444 16 20th Century
Marry Me $30,000 -77% 279 -203 $108 $22,425,975 7 Universal
Nightmare Alley $18,000 -36% 575 300 $31 $11,333,374 15 Searchlight
The Automat $12,384 36% 8 -1 $1,548 $97,916 6 A Slice of Pie Productions

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