It’s been four years since Sandra Bullock last graced the silver screen in OCEAN’S EIGHT; Brad Pitt hasn’t been in front of the camera since his Oscar-winning turn in ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, nearly three years ago. And Channing Tatum has been laying low since THE KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE in 2017, though he had a pivotal cameo in FREE GUY.
The three will be oddly intertwined this year. Each has two movies in 2022, with all three sharing the screen in THE LOST CITY in March. Bullock and Pitt will team up again for BULLET TRAIN in July, while Tatum toplines DOG, due out in February.
This comes at a time when epic ensembles are on-trend. As reported by The New York Times, studios have been attaching enormous groups of stars to a single project where there is safety in numbers in failure and shared victory in success.
Just take a look at the artwork. The poster for THE FRENCH DISPATCH is the film equivalent of Sergeant Pepper. Waldo’s in there somewhere. For DON’T LOOK UP, Netflix created a kind of above-the-title, above-the-others-above-the-title for Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence.
And, you can see by the upcoming DEATH ON THE NILE, the trend will continue into 2022.
That’s why it’s especially refreshing to see posters like these. There’s something rather quaint about an actor going solo or a good old-fashioned two-hander. It will be interesting to see if star-turns can compete with these absurdly huge ensembles.
So, let’s take a moment to focus on THE LOST CITY. One look at the trailer, and you immediately get ROMANCING THE STONE vibes. ROMANCING was the 10th highest-grossing film of 1984. Can this kind of romantic adventure comedy succeed in theaters nearly 40 years later?
As mentioned above, LOST features Bullock and Tatum as co-leads, with Pitt taking a supporting role. On The Quorum, it belongs to the “original” group, meaning it is not based on well-known existing IP.
Since May of 2020, 12 originals have opened theatrically. FREE GUY was easily the most successful, having opened to $28M. FREE GUY aside, this group has struggled to find an audience. Only three debuted above $10M while many failed to open above $5M.
Can LOST rise to the top of the class? Can it match or surpass the $28M opening for FREE GUY?
There’s reason to be optimistic. LOST is exactly 100 days from release. At the moment, awareness for the film is at 35 (dark yellow). FREE GUY had an awareness of 45 when it opened, but at 100 days out, it was at 32 (light yellow). Advantage: LOST
On the interest side, it’s advantage FREE GUY. Currently, LOST has an interest score of 5.4, below the 5.8 for FREE GUY at the same distance from release. LOST has some ground to make up over the next three months.
There are other reasons why we should be rooting for LOST the same way we did for FREE GUY last summer. These original titles have been struggling at the box office, as noted above. But, we need the box office to be driven by more than just Marvel and DC films. We need smaller and mid-budget films to succeed.
FREE GUY ended the year as the 10th highest-grossing film of 2021. What’s remarkable is that it was the only film among the top ten that was not based on existing IP. Not to get too nostalgic, but take a look at the ten highest-grossing films of 1984. Nearly all of them are original IP.
It’s clear there’s no returning to the pre-cinematic universe world. Nor do we necessarily want to. But the hope is that theatrical will find a way to have both big and small succeed at the box office. THE LOST CITY will give us a good indication if there is still an appetite for these kinds of films.