Wednesday, February 28

Paramount+ May Prevent ‘The Lost City’ From Crossing $100 Million

Somewhat lost in the deserved huzzahs over A24’s Everything, Everywhere All at Once defying any realistic box office expectations and becoming one of the biggest-grossing non-tentpoles of the Covid era was the equally impressive staying power shown by Lost City. The Sandra Bullock/Channing Tatum rom-com adventure has earned $95 million domestic after 45 days in theaters. That’s a 3.125x multiplier from its $30.4 million opening weekend. It has taken drops of 51%, 38%, 31%, 30%, 12% and 27% over its second-through seventh weekend in theaters. But in the new normal, day 47 means it’s already available to buy on Digital HD and to stream “for free” on Paramount+. We got word this weekend that Top Gun: Maverick will be getting a now-unthinkable 120-day window, Tom Cruise is the biggest movie star Paramount has and that Mission: Impossible is their lone remaining A+ franchise. However, I’d argue putting Lost City on streaming and EST so early was a mistake.

To be fair. paramount‘s A Quiet Place part II, MGM’s No Time to Die and Universal’s song 2 have shown over the last year that big and successful theatrical releases don’t drop dead as soon as they become available elsewhere. that batman sank like a stone after arriving on HBO Max on day 46 (after grossing $370 million) may have been a coincidence, as the WB superhero flick lost most of its screens over the last two weeks anyway. Even leggy films do around 90% of their gross in the first 38 days. Moreover, batman and Charm, which got a 31-day window and nabbed higher Disney+ viewership than Turning Red which skipped domestic theaters, again show that mere theatrical existence provides awareness and interest for a superior streaming debut. However, both in terms of what Lost City still might have accomplished and what else there is in theaters this summer, the theatrical exclusivity window should have been extended.

The original $70 million is $5 million shy of the $100 million mark. While I imagine Paramount’s theatrical department will still try to make it happen, it’s now less likely than it would have been had it remained theatrically exclusive for the next month. Symbolic benchmark or not, it would still mark the first live-action original to pass that marker since Knives Out in November of 2019 (or 1917 in January 2020). It would mark Sandra Bullock’s 11th $100 million-plus domestic grosser, counting Minions ($336 million) and Prince of Egypt ($100 million) and affirming the Speed star as one of the last butts-in-seats draws alongside Leonardo DiCaprio. Even Scarlett Johansson has twelve such films and eight are MCU movies. Among actresses, only Julia Roberts has more (12) sans inflation. amongactors, Top Gun: Maverick should put Tom Cruise alongside Tom Hanks with 21. Of course, Sandra Bullock didn’t have six Mission: Impossible movies or four toy story flicks.

Speaking of top-grossing actresses, a list that’s stifled via systemic bias and gender-based inequities, Lost City is essentially the only big theatrical this summer, and yes it opened in late March, that’s aimed squarely at adult women. To an extent frankly not seen since 2013, when Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy’s Heat was one of the only big “for women/from women” major studio theatricals during that season, summer 2022 is almost entirely fronted by testosterone. you have Doctor Strange 2, Thor 4, Lightyear, Top Gun: Maverick, Bullet Train, Elvis and Minions: The Rise of Gru. Sure, Downton Abbey: A New Era is aimed at grandma *and* grandpa, and Keke Palmer may turn out to be the lead (alongside Daniel Kaluuya) of Jordan Peele’s Nope. For that matter, Jurassic World: Dominion may be a two-hander between Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt (as were the two previous entries). However, on the surface, there are essentially no “big-deal” female-fronted movies this summer.

Some of that is due to Covid-specific variables. We saw a slew of “not a white guy” star vehicles (Wonder Woman 1984, Mulan, The Mitchells Vs the Machines, etc.) being sent to streamers or released in very challenging circumstances, including shortened windows, day-and-date hybrid strategies and related variables. However, it’s not a great look that Hollywood filled up last summer with F9 Candyman, Black Widow, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Shang-Chi, Jungle Cruise, Spiral and Snake Eyes while waiting for circumstances to improve for Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, No Time to Die and eventually Spider-Man: No Way Home. Likewise, Disney sent a slew of original and/or diverse animated films (Raya and the Last Dragon, Charm, Turning Red, Soul, Luca, etc.) to streaming or into theaters under compromised circumstances only to offer up Lightyear Ace Pixar‘s first all-in theatrical release since Onwards. That’s not entirely fair, as Ryan Reynolds‘Free Guy broke out last summer, but it underlines the current predicament.

Sony’s Where the Crawdads Sing (July 15) is the only mainstream female-fronted major studio release between Lost City and both Viola Davis‘The Woman King and Florence Pugh‘s Don’t Worry Darling in mid-September. Lost City earned $2.8 million last weekend, so it’s not like it would have crawled to $150 million domestic if left unmolested. We’ll see how the film will play as the only game in town for their respective demographics. That goes double for sonic the hedgehog 2which has passed $170 million partially by being the first huge-deal kids flick since song 2 last December. It wasn’t going to crack $200 million no matter how long its window remained open, but sending it to Paramount+ in a couple of weeks won’t help. Sony reaped rewards by keeping No Way Home theatrically exclusive as its legs remained steady and its grosses remained high. It still set EST records after an 88-day window. There may be value in flexible theatrical windows for differing theatrical outcomes.

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