How many of us are there out there? How big is our club? The club is People Who Love Rom-Coms and Will Pay To See Them in Theatres.
Are we old?
There’s been a lament in the movie industry over the last decade or so – and especially now since COVID decided to keep f-cking us over and over again – that blockbuster movies are the only ones that draw crowds. But there used to be a time when we’d go to all kinds of movies, including rom-coms. Rom-coms used to make money.
And also, movies starring Movie Stars used to make money. Sarah wrote about this recently in her post about the 20th anniversary of Oceans Eleven, calling it “one of the last films that succeeds almost entirely because of Movie Stars”. Since then, Movie Stars have lost a lot of market value…
But they keep trying. GOOD. I want them to keep trying, because those of us in the aforementioned club still want to believe in Movie Stars! Now here’s a movie that will really, really test the existential value of the Movie Star.
The first trailer for The Lost City, starring Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, and Brad Pitt was released yesterday. It’s about a romance novelist who writes stories about a fictional city and it turns out to be real, and Channing Tatum is the Fabio dude on her book covers and Brad Pitt is the real dude, the living stereotype with the Fabio hair who becomes Chan’s romantic rival. As I’ve been saying since they announced this project, I’m ready for a present day revival of Romancing the Stone – and this is exactly what we’re getting, they even make reference to it in the trailer.
Look, I was going to love this movie no matter what, since I’m the target market but objectively, at least I think so, it looks GREAT. Sandra and Channing are perfectly cast. She is so great in roles like this – it’s a little bit of a combination of some of her previous best rom-com roles. The sequins are giving me Miss Congeniality. The awkward, introvert vibes are giving me While You Were Sleeping (which is a Christmas movie so watch it this weekend!), the fish-out-of-water on location thing is giving me The Proposal (although she’s always kind of a fish-out-of-water in her comedies). All of these are classic and beloved Sandra Bullock movies. And now she’s doing it again with an ideal partner – Channing Tatum, also leaning into his lane, a beefcake with a heart of gold, and the two of them look like they have instant chemistry. Also the fact that they called his character “Alan”… chef’s kiss.
You know who surprised me here though? Daniel Radcliffe. Whoever thought of him to play a sleazebag English billionaire tomb raider is a genius. (Sarah: This isn’t surprising to anyone who has watched Miracle Workers!) And Da’Vine Joy Randolph as the all-business book agent is also a great fit for the formula, always a rom-com essential. She’s the Frances McDormand in Something’s Gotta Give, Carrie Fisher in When Harry Met Sally, Judy Greer in everything.
And then, of course, Brad Pitt in full comedy mode with the hair and the extra-ness, and what’s interesting is that just before he shows up in the trailer, there’s a scene featuring Sandra and Chan in what looks like a pretty sexy moment, slow dancing in low light – he’s in an open-neck white shirt, sleeves rolled up, her hair is loose and wavy, and spins in his arms…
It looks like a re-enactment of a similar scene from Mr & Mrs Smith.
All of this lines up. So much potential. But, again, who’s going to show up?
Well I can’t imagine the marketing team won’t be taking this straight to the romance book conventions. If the COVID situation allows it somehow, that should 100% be a press stop. This is 100% the audience they should be targeting. And it’s a lucrative audience that is underserved and underestimated. Romance books fund the book industry. Back in August, Fortune reported that sales of romance novels rose by 24% since start of the pandemic, and it’s not like the genre was on life support before COVID. Romance books have always been reliable money-maker for publishers. This is a demographic that they should be catering to, especially for this movie. If they do it right, this demographic (that includes me) will throw money at this movie, not just one time but probably multiple times.
The Lost City opens on March 25. You know what’s also happening that weekend? The Oscars. Will Sandra, Channing, and Brad present together at the Oscars?