Sandra Bullock temporarily went the way of Netflix when, in 2018, she had one of the most watched (or, at least, started) films in the history of the streamer in Bird Box and then followed it up this past December with the critical dud The Unforgivable (39%). The last time she was seen in theaters was earlier in 2018 with Ocean’s 8, which became the eighth film of hers to gross over $100 million. Her latest movie may come up a bit short of that total, but it still opened with promise that the upcoming summer is about to have a healthy pre-season.
(Photo by Kimberley French/©Paramount Pictures)
The Lost City opened exactly where so many were hoping it would, at the (slightly) higher edge of expectations that ranged from $25-30 million, even before the Thursday night previews were counted; the latter came out to $2.5 million, bringing the final tally up to $31 million. When you take one look at prior Thursdays in March, you will see Tim Burton’s Dumbo began with $2.6 million and opened to $29.7 million. Then the sequels Pacific Rim: Uprising and The Divergent Series: Allegiant began with $2.35 million each and opened, respectively, to $28.1 million and $29 million. The numbers line up beautifully, and there are two key factors that provide a little cause for celebration among theaters. Those other films were prior to the pandemic as well as remakes and sequels, while The Lost City is an original film. Well, sort of.
The Romancing the Stone-wannabe is doing just fine with critics (76%) — it’s surprisingly the fifth best-reviewed film in Sandra Bullock’s filmography behind only Gravity (96%), Speed (93%), While You Were Sleeping (81%), and the animated film The Prince of Egypt (80%). But it is that “original” designation that makes it standout. It’s not a sequel or remake, or based on a comic book, or part of a 60-year franchise, or even a Disney ride. Though it may line up with Jungle Cruise’s $30.09 million start last July while it also existed for a premium fee on Disney Plus, The Lost City bested even last summer’s Free Guy ($28.3 million) and stands atop the post-March 2020 leaderboard for a standalone film.
Does that mean The Lost City is headed for $100 million like Free Guy? Let’s not go there just yet. Admittedly in its favor is that every film to open with over $25 million except for one (2022’s Scream) has reached that milestone. However, it’s not going to benefit from the more cautious marketplace that those films did. Next week it will be knocked off its perch by Morbius. After the releases of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Ambulance, and the third Fantastic Beasts film, it may just be hanging on to fifth place if it doesn’t fall below The Batman by then. Still, starting the floor at $80 million is a great lead-in to a month that could see folks beginning to fill up movie theaters again.
(Photo by DVV Entertainment)
The Batman is not the only three-hour film out there drawing a crowd. RRR, from director S.S. Rajamouli of the Baahubali films, just opened to $9.5 million. The director’s 2017 film, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion opened to $10.4 million in just 425 theaters and went on to gross $20.1 million. While some theaters have taken to price gouging shows of The Batman, tickets for RRR are running at least $21 in the 1,200 locations playing it and upwards of $40+ in some.
(Photo by ©Bleecker Street Media)
Bleecker Street’s rescue drama Infinite Storm with Naomi Watts cracked the top 10 but with only $751,000 in 1,525 theaters. It is the studio’s widest release since Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane in 2018. Bleecker Street has released 12 films during the pandemic, and only two of them (Mass, I’m Your Man) have averaged more than $1,000 per theater. Their other wide releases during this time, Dream Horse and Together Together, averaged $634 and $801 on their opening weekends. Infinite Storm’s numbers add up to just a $493 PTA.
(Photo by A24)
The Batman fell from first place at the weekly box office, but it still has a comfortable lead for the year. Another $20.5 million this week brings its total to over $332 million. $21 million was the goal this weekend, and it nearly achieved that. There are only five films that earned $320 million or more after 24 days and failed to reach $400 million. If Morbius knocks the film back under $11 million next week, its odds will decrease slightly again, but even with a crowded April, The Batman is still going to add to its total visibly in the top 10 until well into May.
Last week’s big surprise anime rollout, Jujutsu Kaisen 0, dropped 74% in its second frame to $4.5 million. With just $27.7 million, it doesn’t have much of a chance to surpass the $45.9 million that Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train earned last year, but it is well on pace to overtake the $30.7 million of 2019’s Dragon Ball Super: Broly. Ti West’s horror film X fell 49% to $2.2 million this week, bringing its total to $8.3 million. It needs to reach $10.8 million to pass Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse to break into the Top 15 grosses ever from studio A24. Another film hoping to join that list showed promise this weekend: Everything Everywhere All At Once, from the creators of Swiss Army Man, opened to $510,000 in just 10 theaters. It begins to expand further next week and fully on Apr. 8, but that $51,000 per-theater-average for the film currently sporting a 97% Tomatometer score after opening the SXSW Film Festival is the third best since 2020, behind Licorice Pizza ($86,289) and Spider-Man: No Way Home ($59,995)
Speaking of which, Sony has a lot of cause for celebration this week. Spider-Man: No Way Home officially became the third film ever to gross over $800 million in North America behind only Avengers: Endgame and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And while the studio hopes for some big returns on Morbius next week, it should be quite satisfied that Uncharted is headed into the black. The $120 million-budgeted video game adaptation is passing $350 million worldwide with $133 million of that right here. Another $4.6 million this week gives it a chance to pass $140 million domestically. The film that opened against it on Feb. 18, Dog, remains one of the success stories of the first quarter as it approaches $60 million. It is now the second-highest-grossing film since the studio reformed as UA Releasing in 2019 after the animated Addams Family grossed $97 million.
(Photo by Sony Pictures Entertainment)
After five release date changes due to COVID and its variant scares, Sony’s Morbius finally arrives in theaters hoping to grab a little of that Venom money. Jared Leto should see his Marvel character lead the box office next week, though it could be a short lead if families return to theaters the following week for Sonic the Hedgehog 2. In limited release you can also look for The Contractor with Chris Pine (also available on premium VOD) and Focus’ folklore tale that debuted at Sundance, You Won’t Be Alone.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]