Since its release in March 2022, The Lost City has delighted movie goers with its charm and entertaining script. The adventure movie is packed with laughter, features a star-studded cast, and has currently grossed an impressive $190 million worldwide. To celebrate the new Blu-ray, DVD and Ultra HD release of The Lost City, we sat down with the film’s directors, Adam and Aaron Nee, to discuss the ins and outs of the feel-good movie, as well as the pair’s plans for future projects and possible sequels.
The comedy movie follows the story of the erotic/historical adventure writer Dr Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), who, while promoting her latest book, finds herself kidnapped by an adamant billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe). Luckily for Loretta, the cover model of her book series Dash (Channing Tatum), comes to her rescue, and the two must escape from the jungle before a very active volcano erupts.
In our interview with the Nee brothers, we discuss what it was like filming The Lost City during a global pandemic, the possibility of The Lost City 2, and how this film helped them in their next big project – Masters of the Universe.
The Digital Fix: I thought The Lost City was a great adventure film that felt reminiscent of Indiana Jones and The Mummy. What references, if any, did you use while directing this movie?
Aaron Nee: Well, Indiana Jones was definitely a big one. That was such a formative movie for us growing up. Like that’s one of those films that we wore out the VHS tape on playing over and over again. So, it’s so ingrained in us.
But we were actually, I mean; we were also pulling from classic Tracy Hepburn comedies. Tracy and Hepburn and then the kind of ’80s Amblin adventure that feels sort of like it disappeared for a little while. And we love that kind of filmmaking so much. We really wanted to put that back on the screen.
This movie has great star power, too, with a cast of A-listers. Channing Tatum stood out to me; what did he bring to the set?
Adam Nee: Oh my gosh, he’s just glorious on set. It’s like having this exuberant childlike energy all the time where he makes it fun for everybody. He treats everyone so equally and creates such a fun environment.
And with that, there is a sense of play that never goes away with him. So, from the time you call action, he’s just down to try anything. There’s no defensiveness as an actor, which I think is really beautiful. It’s kind of like just this very raw puppy dog energy that comes with him that created these really, really funny, energetic moments.
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Aaron Nee: It’s actually one of the reasons why I’m really excited about the Digital and Blu-ray release of the movie because the special features that we’ve got on here give people a chance to see kind of what it was like on that set.
I think you get the feeling watching the movie that ‘wow, these are friends having fun’. And then you watch the behind-the-scenes footage and see that, yes, these are friends having a lot of fun together.
Will you ever come back to The Lost City? Can we expect a Lost City sequel or spin-off, maybe?
Adam Nee: It’s always possible. I think that one of the things that we were feeling was the movie is such a joyful escapist kind of a film. The movie should feel like a warm hug after you’ve been going through a hard time.
It just should be this joyful escapist thing. And Aaron and I were just wrestling with the fact that Jack Trainer [Brad Pitt] – (Spoiler alert) – would be dead because it was like, We love that guy!
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I just think that in this universe, somehow, that incredible man would have figured out how to survive. And so that the audience can leave with this last laugh and last feeling of goodwill. And also, it definitely teases that that would be a pretty amazing sequel of those three in some sort of situation.
In the film, we had explosions. We had motorcycle racing. We even had spelunking. What were the challenges in filming such an action-packed movie, especially during Covid-19?
Aaron Nee: A lot. And you hit it with the Covid-19 side of it too. Like it’s hard enough to be in the jungle in the sweltering heat, battling the elements, we’re coming up against hurricane season.
But we’re also doing it in N95 masks with these very careful protocols in place to protect our crew from getting sick, which proved effective. We’re very proud that the movie did not shut down. But it made for really difficult shooting conditions.
Adam Nee: Having those levels of action and all of those crazy sets was a big important factor for us. And it’s kind of how we came in when we were pitching on the job. Really wanting to put the audience in these environments with our cast because with a comedy, I think it’s very easy to be like, ‘Oh, we’ll shoot on a blue screen and this or that.’
But I feel like those movies from the ’80s and ’90s, that we were talking about, you feel the stakes because you see like, ‘Oh no, that’s Harrison Ford on that horse’, or you see, ‘that’s Kathleen Turner in the jungle.’ So that was an important thing for us.
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And so the first ten days of the shoot were like hiking down into the jungle stream and putting them in the water shooting on the waterfall ledge, making Channing take all of his clothes off and glueing leeches to his butt.
And then after that, we’re out on 12 boats on a 45-minute boat ride out into the middle of the ocean to this Island cave – with nothing connected to it, just ocean, shooting for four days. So, it was such an intense way to make a movie.
But I think it created this vibe of excitement for the cast and crew because movies aren’t really made like that too much anymore. It was definitely like, ‘Hey, guys, we’re going on a big camping trip. Let’s have fun. Let’s just embrace it.’ And everyone did.
How did working on The Lost City help you going forward with your upcoming film, Masters of the Universe?
Adam Nee: Well, it helps a ton! I mean, we’ve been on Masters of the Universe for a while. We actually got Masters of the Universe before Lost City. And it went through some changes and moved studios.
The Lost City, I think, helped us so much in terms of just learning how to manage such a big property and all of these moving parts because it’s kind of like, you know, Lost City to an extreme. Masters of the Universe is obviously a huge action; it has huge set pieces, all this big, exciting, sprawling stuff.
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So, you know, Lost City, I think, also introduced us to a lot of amazing cast and crew who we’d like to bring over for Masters of the Universe for sure.
You said how Lost City feels like a big hug. And you guys did so well at the box office. I mean, you beat Death on the Nile with your opening weekend, which was amazing. Why do you think people are so drawn to this movie?
Aaron Nee: What I can speak to is what drew us to it. And I imagine this is probably also part of the attraction to other people. One, we grew up on films like this, so it’s in our DNA. But also, it was the right time for it.
When this script came to us, it was the fall of 2020. We were holed up in our houses, wondering, ‘when will we ever get to go out again?’ Because of this pandemic, that was just getting bigger and bigger.
And this movie came along, and we realised that’s what we were longing for. It was like, ‘I’m longing for that; I want to go on that escape. I want to just get out of my home, I want to go into a theatre, I want to sit with friends and laugh together and go to beautiful places.’ And come away feeling good.
Like I just got to forget my problems for a little while. And this movie is the opportunity. It’s that chance to just escape your problems for a little bit. Be with fun, funny, people. Laugh with your friends and see some beautiful, beautiful places.
You can now see The Lost City from the comfort of their own couches, as the comedy is now available to purchase on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD as of July 25, 2022.