Sandra Bullock’s ’The Lost City’ Seeks to Expand Box Office Beyond Young Men

The Paramount rom-com looks to bring in women as more films catering to family and older audiences are coming this spring

For the past year since theaters reopened, success at the box office has been largely defined by whether a film could draw in male moviegoers under 35. As the spring release period gets underway, studios will hope to change that, starting with Paramount’s adventure rom-com “The Lost City.”

Starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum as a romance novelist and her dopey cover model who end up in their own adventure, “The Lost City” will try to draw in women this weekend — particularly older women who have been reluctant to come back to theaters due to COVID-19. Paramount is projecting an opening weekend of $20-23 million while independent trackers are projecting a start as high as $30 million.

Even on that optimistic end, theatrical profitability for “The Lost City” may be modest at best with a reported budget of $70 million. But good word of mouth could help the film leg out as an alternative to upcoming films like Sony’s “Morbius” — a film that will be far more male-skewing — and fellow Paramount release “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.” Early reviews for “The Lost City” have been mostly positive with a 78% Rotten Tomatoes score at time of writing.

Also helping is the fact that the market has already proven that Tatum has some level of drawing power in this COVID-era market thanks to the actor’s last film, “Dog,” which was released by MGM last month and has so far grossed $55 million domestically against a $15 million budget.

Again, that might not be enough to allow the much pricier “Lost City” to turn a profit, but this rom-com will still be a welcome addition to the marquee for theater owners hoping to capitalize on low COVID-19 infection rates with films that appeal to a wider range of moviegoers.

“As a more diverse array of films are released into the marketplace… the timing could be perfect for these films to find favor with their target audiences who over time seem to be more amenable to the movie theater experience,” said Comscore’s Paul Dergarabedian. “With each passing day, movies aimed at the female, more mature and family audiences are improving their potential for success on the big screen.”

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Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • • Twitter: @jeremyfuster