Weekend Box Office Forecast: The Lost City Hopes to Continue a Moviegoing Rebound for Mid-Tier Films

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

Friday Morning Update: Paramount reports that The Lost City grossed $2.5 million from Thursday domestic previews which began at 4pm in over 3,400 locations. The studio confirms this figure excludes any grosses from Saturday, Tuesday, and Wednesday sneak previews held prior to last night.

As comps go, Lost City‘s pure Thursday registers ahead of Free Guy ($2.2 million), Good Boys ($2.1 million), Blockers ($1.5 million), Dog ($1.225 million from Monday and Thursday sneaks), and Game Night ($1.0 million).

Check out the previous early weekend analysis and forecast below.

Wednesday Report: The final weekend of March will kickstart a wave of releases from major studios in the coming weeks as the long winter drought comes to a close.

Headlining this frame is Paramount’s The Lost City with a wide berth at an estimated 4,248 domestic locations come Friday. The comedy-adventure has been building buzz with a series of pre-opening sneak previews dating back to Fandango’s Early Access showings on Saturday, March 19, followed by various exhibitor sneaks for “Girls Night Out” on Tuesday and “Date Night Out” on Wednesday.

As previously discussed, Lost City is the kind of rare title leaning on its star power as much as, if not more than, its premise. Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum are reliable, bankable names when the right kind of film comes along, and this is looking to be just what the doctor ordered for theaters and moviegoers craving fresh content.

Extra fitting is the fact that it promises a fun, escapist adventure, the exact kind of movie audiences are supporting in the waning days of the pandemic. Daniel Radcliffe’s villainous turn and a well-advertised cameo from Brad Pitt can’t hurt, either.

Just this year alone, Paramount has been a crucial player in the industry with the very successful, theatrically exclusive releases of Scream in January and Jackass Forever last month.

Tracking has steadily improved since preliminary forecasts were released last month, a trend that often bodes well for a hit debut — if not a bona fide breakout. The Lost City has continued to build on the previous comparison titles cited with social metrics and interest/engagement models outpacing those of pre-pandemic comedy successes like Good Boys, Blockers, and Game Night, though the usual asterisks remain.

The most relevant pandemic-era benchmarks are the likes of Jungle Cruise and Free Guy, which The Lost City is holding its own against in all pre-release data points available. Audience sentiment has clearly improved since those summer 2021 openers, and theatrical exclusivity should be a big advantage for City just as it was for the Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer-led Free Guy.

The film also has a PLF presence in its arsenal, and we’re banking on a significant “walk-up” factor for the non-IP release in what can be considered a bullish forecast below.

This is, of course, ultimately a litmus test for consumer comfort as well as audience habits. Women over 35 have frequently shown to be the strongest holdout when it comes to a cinematic return during the pandemic. While Death on the Nile proved to be another soft performer among that demographic, some of its shortcomings can be pinned on other factors.

Conversely, Dog reached sleeper hit expectations in the same month, a film that also primarily courted women and, like City, featured an audience-friendly turn from star Tatum. The actor has clearly made in-roads into the comedic genre with all audiences, though, thanks to the success of the Jump Street franchise and Dog itself, among other roles and cameos in recent years.

With reviews at an encouraging 78 percent from critics — plus a tentative, and arguably more important, 90 percent audience score from the aforementioned sneak preview crowds — The Lost City is poised for a healthy debut and potentially leggy run. Despite a number of major studio releases on consecutive weekends for the first time since late last year, this comedy provides a strong counter-programmer alongside the fan-driven pictures bowing in April.

Also opening this weekend in semi-wide release are a couple of notable specialty titles, with Sarigama Cinemas’ RRR – Rise Roar Revolt making waves in pre-sales thus far. This is typically the kind of film we don’t offer up forecasts for, and comparable pandemic titles are virtually non-existent at the level its early business indicates. Still, it’s a film targeting an under-served audience with dark horse status that could see it crack the top five this weekend.

The film is booked in over 1,154 locations as of Wednesday afternoon, per Showtimes Dashboard. Internal projections indicate that total could climb even higher by the weekend given the strength of pre-buys. Those tickets do appear quite front-loaded for the time being with modest weekend sales following incredibly robust Thursday business. As such, all forecasts are volatile.

Meanwhile, Bleecker Street is set to unspool Infinite Storm in semi-wide play. Dashboard shows over 1,438 locations confirmed as of Wednesday, although the film’s pre-release tracking is lukewarm with minimal marketing and social presence leading to soft awareness. (On Thursday morning, the studio confirmed a projected location count of 1,525.)

The Naomi Watts-led drama could be in the middle of a close fight with several other films for the tenth place position this weekend, barring any modest surprise (which isn’t unreasonable to expect in a market still filling out with fresh content). Early reviews are solid at 79 percent from 14 critics.

As holdovers go, The Batman will retain a fair portion of premium screens thanks to IMAX, although some of the adult crowd could venture over to The Lost City. Meanwhile, Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie is likely poised for a sharp drop-off as is common with anime imports, though its breakout earnings remain highly impressive up to this stage.

Weekend Forecast Ranges

The Lost City
Opening Weekend Range: $24 — 34 million

RRR – Rise Roar Revolt
Opening Weekend Range: $5 — 10 million

Infinite Storm
Opening Weekend Range: <$1.5 million

Weekend Forecast & Location Counts

Boxoffice projects between a 2 to 10 percent increase for this weekend’s top ten films from last weekend’s $77 million top ten aggregate. 

Film Distributor 3-Day Weekend Forecast Projected Domestic Total through Sunday, March 27 Location Count Projection (as of Wednesday) % Change from Last Wknd
The Lost City Paramount Pictures $30,000,000 $30,000,000 4,253 NEW
The Batman Warner Bros. $21,000,000 $332,600,000 3,967 -43%
RRR – Rise Roar Revolt Sarigama Cinemas $6,400,000 $6,400,000 ~1,400 NEW
Uncharted Sony Pictures / Columbia $5,800,000 $134,400,000 ~3,500 -26%
Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie Funimation $4,800,000 $27,700,000 ~2,286 -73%
Dog United Artists Releasing $2,800,000 $58,600,000 ~3,000 -30%
Spider-Man: No Way Home Sony Pictures / Columbia & Marvel Studios $2,300,000 $800,800,000 ~2,000 -27%
X A24 $2,100,000 $7,900,000 ~2,865 -52%
Sing 2 Universal Pictures $1,300,000 $160,200,000 ~2,200 -10%
Death on the Nile Disney / 20th Century Studios $1,000,000 $45,300,000 1,300 -39%

*All forecasts are subject to revision before the first confirmation of Thursday previews or Friday estimates from studios or official sources.

Theater counts are updated as confirmed by studiosThe above table does not necessarily represent the top ten as some studios do not finalize weekend location counts and/or an intent to report box office returns prior to publishing

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