The Lost City of Z

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  • Directed By: James Gray
  • Written By: James Gray
  • Release Date: April 14, 2017
  • Domestic Distributor: Amazon (through Bleeker Street)
  • Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller
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Box Office Info:
Budget: $30 millionFinanced by: MICA Entertainment; MadRiver Pictures
Domestic Gross: $8,580,410Overseas Gross: $8,547,997

the lost city of z 2017
The Lost City Of Z had a long journey to the big screen after numerous false starts.  Before the non-fiction book by David Grann was published in February 2009, Paramount acquired the rights for Brad Pitt’s Plan B in March 2008 with the actor attached as the lead and James Gray was soon onboard as director.  Things began to come together in 2010 when Inferno was tapped to handle international pre-sales, which kicked off at the Cannes Film Festival in May.  Sales were huge and Inferno sold over $40 million of what was estimated to be an ambitious $80 million project.  In November Pitt left the pic as the lead but remained as producer and once he vacated the role, financing collapsed.

The project was resurrected in late 2013, when Panorama Media took on financing and global sales with Benedict Cumberbatch now penciled in as the lead.  Cumberbatch eventually pulled out and around the same time, Marc Butan who ran the sales division at Panorama — left that company and went to the sales outfit Sierra/Affinity and took The Lost City Of Z with him.  The project began to actively move forward yet again in 2015 with Charlie Hunnam now as the lead and financing from MICA Entertainment and MadRiver Pictures — which was a newly formed company from Marc Butan, who left Sierra/Affinity to run the development and financing shingle MadRiver.  Sierra/Affinity remained as the global sales rep.  The budget for The Lost City of Z was scaled down to $30 million.

Pre-sales kicked off at the 2015 European Film Market in Berlin in February and the picture sold well, but the movie did not have a US distributor attached.  After the picture was completed, it was brought to the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016 in search of a domestic distributor.  About one week before the festival market opened for bids, Amazon purchased US rights for a huge eight-figure amount.  Hot off the sale, The Lost City of Z premiered on October 16 at the New York Film Festival as the closing night film and received a very positive response from critics and auds.  Amazon dated The Lost City of Z for a limited bow on April 14, 2017 with plans to expand the picture wide over a few weeks.

Amazon had yet to form its own in-house distribution division and partnered with Bleeker Street to release the movie theatrically.  Bleeker would be a rent-a-distributor and Amazon would pay for use of their distribution resources.  The Lost City of Z was booked into 4 locations and pulled in a decent enough $110,175 with a $27,544 per screen average.  The theater count expanded the following weekend to 614 and it grossed a respectable $2,121,540.  In its third session it expanded to 866 theaters with diminishing returns at $1,806,634 and it continued to post large weekly declines.  The Lost City of Z never expanded beyond 866 theaters and the domestic run closed with just $8,580,410.  The complaint that adult movies with mid-range budgets like this no longer get made because that core audience never shows up to see them, was unfortunately once again substantiated here.

The Lost City of Z was also a non-performer overseas.  France posted the highest numbers at $2.5 million and most markets grossed under $1 million.  The recorded offshore cume was just $8.5 million across numerous distributors.

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