INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY stepped into its rightful place by finishing first at the weekend box office with $60.0M. This is the fifth installment in the franchise’s legendary 42-year history, and the second biggest opening behind only INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL which grossed $100.1M in its debut from May 21-23, 2008.
History of Five INDIANA JONES Movies (1981-2023)
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (dir. Steven Spielberg)
– Released 6/12/1981, Opening Domestic: $8.3M, Total Domestic: $248.2M, Total Worldwide: $389.5M, Budget: $18M
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (dir. Steven Spielberg)
– Released 5/23/1984, Opening Domestic: $25.3M, Total Domestic: $179.9M, Total Worldwide: $333.1M, Budget: $28M
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (dir. Steven Spielberg)
– Released 5/24/1989, Opening Domestic: $29.4M, Total Domestic: $197.2M, Total Worldwide: $474.2M, Budget: $48M
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (dir. Steven Spielberg)
– Released 5/21/2008, Opening Domestic: $100.1M, Total Domestic: $317.1M, Total Worldwide: $790.7M, Budget: $185M
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (dir. James Mangold)
– Released 6/30/2023, Opening Domestic: $60.0M, Budget: $295M
When it opened in 2008, CRYSTAL SKULL was said to be the final curtain call for Indy and it was also the highest worldwide box office earner of the series with $790.7M. Spielberg was said to have grown tired of the story after directing a fourth movie in the series and its star Harrison Ford was already 65 years old. Reports emerged that the two had only “reluctantly” agreed to come together to make the fourth movie after 19 years had passed since the prior chapter INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE.
However, in an industry that is chronically starved of new intellectual property, Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy could not resist the temptation to fire up another sequel, with the last one grossing a sweet $800M worldwide.
Spielberg declined to direct, so the studio turned to filmmaker James Mangold with an impressive track record including WALK THE LINE (2005), THE WOLVERINE (2013), LOGAN (2017), and FORD V FERRARI (2019). They were able to convince an 80-year-old Harrison Ford to step back into the lead by ensuring that it would be as action-packed as always and giving him the leeway to do as much or as little of the stunt work as he chose. Ford also admitted that he was not entirely satisfied with his character’s ending in the last film and would be interested in one last shot.
Even though DIAL OF DESTINY is the first Indiana Jones movie not to be written by George Lucas, both Lucas and Spielberg participated as executive producers. Finally, it is the only Indiana Jones movie not to be distributed by Paramount, after Disney’s 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm.
The storyline is set in 1969, with Indiana Jones resigned to leaving behind his high adventure days. Nonetheless, Indy gets caught up in a series of events involving his estranged goddaughter and a device that could change the course of history. The two are pitted against a Nazi agent… again with the Nazis… turned NASA scientist who sees the device as a prime opportunity to correct Hitler’s past “mistakes.” Critics gave it a middle-of-the-road 66% Fresh verdict on Rotten Tomatoes, but moviegoers are much more enamored with an 89% audience score.
Disney’s challenge to find success with this film is that it has once again gone done the path of making a very expensive sequel. While Spielberg produced RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK on a budget of only $18M, the budget 42 years later for DIAL OF DESTINY has ballooned to a whopping $295M. Its opening box office came in at only 60% of the first weekend for KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.
This could translate to a total worldwide gross for DIAL OF DESTINY of $475M compared with $790.7M for KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. Disney is at risk of having another high-profile sequel losing money. The competition will also be hot this July with the next chapter of the equally iconic MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE franchise opening on July 12th, followed by the July 21st dual openings of BARBIE and OPPENHEIMER. Therefore, INDIANA JONES has a brief two-week window to drive its worldwide gross.
After last week’s surprising rebound into first place, SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE took second this weekend with an additional $11.5M and a decline of 39% from last weekend. SPIDER-VERSE is on pace to wind up with $380M domestic and $650M worldwide, which would position it as the second highest-grossing film of 2023, trailing only THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE which has earned $573M.
In a period when studios are lavishing large sums to produce blockbusters that have a spotty track record at the box office, it is refreshing to see SPIDER-VERSE perform well after being produced on a tightly controlled budget of $100M. Sony will be rewarded with hundreds of millions of dollars in profits, which can be reinvested in future productions. Hopefully, this will result in a steady stream of titles that exhibitors can use to bring moviegoers to their theatres.
Disney’s ELEMENTAL finished in third place, with a weekend total of $11.3M. Much maligned after its lackluster debut, this Pixar release has performed better than its low opening would have suggested, dropping by only 38% in its second weekend and 39% this weekend. Some had compared ELEMENTAL to last year’s disappointing release of LIGHTYEAR, which earned $104.3M in its first 17 days but tailed off sharply after that.
ELEMENTAL in its first three days earned only 58% of the amount earned by LIGHTYEAR in its opening but has recovered since then by earning 85% of LIGHTYEAR’s total after 17 days. It may finish up with $115M domestic and $200M worldwide, which would not make it profitable but still much better than the doomsday predictions that circulated after its opening weekend.
Sony’s R-Rated comedy NO HARD FEELINGS finished in fourth place with $7.5M and a drop of 50%. After a decent opening, some had hoped that the older demographic that usually supports coming-of-age films would turn out for Jennifer Lawrence. However, NO HARD FEELINGS’ R-Rating and somewhat uncomfortable storyline have proven difficult to overcome. The movie will struggle from here on out and may only rise to a total run of $45M domestic and $60M worldwide.
Paramount’s TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS finished in fifth place in its fourth week by taking in $7.0M, a decline of 40% from last weekend. After a steep drop of 67% between its first and second weekend, this film has rallied to hold up rather well in the following weeks. We are not sure if this is due to the qualities of the film itself or the weakness of the competition, which includes box office disappointments such as THE FLASH and ASTEROID CITY.
The other wide-opening film of the weekend was Dreamworks’ RUBY GILLMAN, TEENAGE KRAKEN, which came in sixth place with $5.2M. Distributed by Universal, this is a story of a 16-year-old girl Ruby who is struggling to fit in at Oceanside High. After developing a crush on a boy whom she is tutoring, she becomes aware that she has the superpower of a Kraken.
While one might think that this would make her life so much easier, it comes with many complications. While 2023 has been a year for animation, this picture does not seem to be resonating with moviegoers. Critics gave it a middling 65% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and moviegoers who have seen it seem to like it, giving an 84% audience score. Because it was made for only $45M, there is a little financial downside for the movie.
In its third weekend, THE FLASH continued its total disintegration, by falling into 8th place after sales of only $5.0M and a brutal drop of 67% from last weekend’s already poor showing. THE FLASH has declined further from its opening weekend to its third weekend than any significant superhero movie. MORBIUS’ third weekend produced only 12.1% of its opening, whereas THE FLASH’s third weekend has come in at 9.0% of its debut. Ouch.
The Hollywood writers’ strike appears to be impacting current movie grosses due to a lack of opportunities for stars such as Jennifer Lawrence and Harrison Ford to appear on talk shows to promote their movies. We hope that the studios, writers, and actors resolve their disputes over contract negotiations, since the movie business is in no position to manage another round of extended shutdowns, this time in production.
All movies in theatres this weekend earned $125.1M domestic, compared with $190.5M last year when MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU led all films with $107.0M in its opening weekend.
WHERE ARE WE AS OF 6/29
The first 25 weeks of 2023 generated 122% of the box office earned at the same point in 2022, but only 81% compared with 2019.