Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum’s The Lost City takes down The Batman

LOS ANGELES —  Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum’s screwball romantic comedy The Lost City collected $31 million at North American theaters over the weekend, a promising sign that Netflix hasn’t completely seized on the meet-cute market.

Of course, Paramount, which is behind The Lost City, did not rely only on positive reviews — or the tease of Tatum’s bare behind — to fuel ticket sales. The on-screen chemistry between Ms. Bullock and Mr. Tatum, who were inescapable on social media, billboards and in trailers while promoting the film, were key in getting audiences to cinemas. That’s a huge accomplishment in an era where familiar franchises have been dictating commercial success (at least, compared to the promise of A-list stars). At the same time, The Lost City, an original adventure that has been described as Romancing the Stone meets Raiders of the Lost Ark, indicates that romantic comedies haven’t entirely fallen out of favor with moviegoers.

“This is an excellent opening,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Romantic comedies have been in decline for a dozen years, well before the pandemic. The combination of big cast plus crowd-pleasing romance plus comedy plus adventure has worked before, and it’s working again.”

The Lost City cost $68 million, which is fairly expensive for a rom-com. But Ms. Bullock and Mr. Tatum get compensated handsomely to headline in movies, and filming the explosion-heavy The Lost City on location in the Dominican Republic during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) did not come cheap. That price tag does not include the serious coin spent to market the movie, which premiered at South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin earlier this month.

Aaron and Adam Nee directed The Lost City, an amorous action-adventure that takes place on a remote tropical jungle. The story follows Ms. Bullock as Loretta Sage, a middle-aged author who gets kidnapped by an eccentric billionaire (Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe, in a villainous role) in the hopes she can discover the ancient lost city’s treasure from her latest story. Ticket buyers were mostly receptive to The Lost City, which landed a B+ CinemaScore.

In a win for Paramount, The Lost City marks the studio’s third movie in 2022 to open in first place, following Scream and Jackass Forever. During the pandemic, Paramount largely stepped back from theatrical releases, instead selling titles like Aaron Sorkin’s courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, Eddie Murphy’s comedy sequel Coming 2 America and Michael B. Jordan’s action thriller Without Remorse to streaming services. Other than A Quiet Place Part II, which powered to nearly $300 million worldwide, the studio’s slate was propped up by kid-friendly animated adventures Paw Patrol and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

At the domestic box office, The Lost City took down reigning champion The Batman, which held the No. 1 spot for three weekends in a row. The superhero adventure, starring Robert Pattinson, took in $20 million between Friday and Sunday, enough for second place. Those ticket sales, a 44% decline from last weekend, are strong considering the movie has already been playing in theaters for a month. The Batman has generated $332 million in North America to date.

In third place, the Indian war epic RRR — which stands for Roudram Ranam Rudhiram — grossed approximately $10 million from 1,200 theaters in its North American debut. That footprint marks one of the widest domestic rollouts for an Indian movie. RRR, which clocks in over three hours, cost $73 million to produce. — Reuters