Indiana Jones is in trouble, but instead of natives, Nazis, and snakes, it’s from kids, apathy, and bad word of mouth. According to Deadline, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the newest and final chapter in the adventure series, is tracking for a $60 million domestic opening weekend. That’s bad news for a film that cost somewhere around $300 million to make and is said to need at least $800 million to break even, according to Fortune (via Yahoo).
Deadline spins some fuzzy math to run interference for Disney and Lucasfilm, saying that Dial of Destiny’s opening weekend haul will be the second-highest for an Indiana Jones film, behind only 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But when you adjust for inflation, it’s only better than Raiders of the Lost Ark, which made$27.2 million adjusted; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom made $72 million in 2023 dollars, while Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade made $92.5 million, and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull made $140 million. And if you want to see what their production costs and total worldwide hauls would be today, WorldClassBullshitters has you covered:
In other words, the Indiana Jones films have always turned a profit, but they also cost relatively little by today’s standards. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the only one that approaches Dial of Destiny’s price tag, but it also made a lot more than Dial of Destiny is likely to eke out when all is said and done. Indy’s last ride is looking to be a sad swan song for one of cinema’s greatest heroes, a desperate attempt to latch onto former (fortune and) glory that may go down as one of the biggest box office bombs in history.
Deadline mentions a lack of interest among the younger generation, who are more excited for The Flash (though not by much) and this past weekend’s Across the Spider-Verse as one of the reasons for the poor tracking. But that’s a lame excuse; plenty of movies have fared well in crowded theater seasons, and these two will have been out for two and four weeks, respectively, when Dial of Destiny is released. And The Flash isn’t tracking well either, with its opening weekend take expected to be a mere $10 million above Indy’s. Youngsters aren’t being dazzled by the competition; they just know a disaster when they see one.
That leads into Deadline’s second excuse for Dial of Destiny’s failure – the bad reviews the film has gotten and the poor reception at the Cannes Film Festival. And I imagine that is a factor; if Disney can’t even get its typical host of entertainment media sycophants to recommend this one, it’s probably awful. There are also a bunch of leaked plot points making the internet rounds because of the Cannes screening (I’m avoiding them as much as I can, but they were everywhere in the days following Cannes, and a few slipped through), and they make this sound like it’s everything most assumed it would be: an embarrassing epilogue that belittles and sidelines Indy in favor of his current-year-approved replacement. I know Hollywood is determined to make this setup work, but nobody wants to see that, and while older moviegoers may feel the nostalgia pull too strongly to resist watching Harrison Ford return as his greatest character, the youth know the score by now and would rather pass.
And here’s a reminder of something even more depressing, just to twist the knife: someone got paid to come up with the title Dial of Destiny.