You are reading an exclusive WrapPRO article for free. Want to level up your entertainment career? Subscribe to WrapPRO.
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” began its domestic box office journey with $7.2 million in Thursday previews. That is almost on par with the $7.5 million earned by “Fast X” but well below “Rise of the Beasts” ($8.8 million), “John Wick: Chapter 4” ($8.9 million), “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” ($17.4 million) and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($17 million). Just doing the straight Thursday-to-weekend math, Disney’s latest tentpole could land anywhere between $50 million and $65 million in its opening weekend.
With mixed-positive reviews (66% fresh and 6.3/10 on Rotten Tomatoes) but an uncertain pull among younger moviegoers, Disney is hoping that the 2.5-hour actioner will pull general audiences and casual fans over the weekend as opposed to must-see-it-now opening night anticipation. Anecdotally, my in-laws already have tickets for a Saturday matinee.
Without Steven Spielberg and George Lucas at the helm, this James Mangold-directed adventure renders “Indiana Jones” as just another Disney IP play, and — quality notwithstanding — is closer in spirit to “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.” That third Mummy movie, which earned $410 million worldwide in August of 2008, brought back Brenden Fraser but swapped out Rachel Weisz for Maria Bello, benched Arnold Vosloo and Oded Fehr from the previous films (even while offering up Michelle Yeoh and Jet Lee in an alleged play for an emerging Chinese marketplace) and had Rob Cohen directing instead of Stephen Sommers.
To be fair, “Indiana Jones” was initially envisioned by Spielberg and Lucas as an American version of the James Bond series, with new installments on the regular and (presumably) casting swap-outs when required, and “Dial of Destiny” did earn more last night than the $6.3 million put up by “No Time to Die” in October 2021. That said, the 007 films are always strong overseas. That Daniel Craig’s last installment earned “just” $160 million domestically was less of a concern as it earned $774 million worldwide. Even with Indy’s previously strong overseas brand, that’s not remotely a guarantee this time out.
The challenge of making another “Indiana Jones” movie 15 years after “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is that films of this size and scale are no longer terribly unique amid the crowded summer movie landscape. The notion of “Indiana Jones, back after all these years but he’s older now and reflecting on his mortality” was essentially the same sell as “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” in 2008. It’s worth remembering that A) “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” outgrossed “Batman” at the global box office in the summer of 1989 and B) “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” earned far more ($785 million) globally than “Iron Man” ($585 million) in summer 2008 and earned about as much overseas that year as “The Dark Knight.”
We’ll see how this plays out, as older moviegoers may just catch up with the picture at their convenience over what is technically a Friday–Tuesday holiday weekend or just sometime between now and “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” on July 12. Most Disney films offered up in 2021 through 2023 have been relatively leggy, with even overall commercial whiffs like “Raya and the Last Dragon” and (thus far) “Elemental” showing strong post-debut multipliers. Still, with a reported $300 million budget, Disney was banking on a best-case-scenario performance here, there and everywhere.
Meanwhile, Dreamworks Animation’s “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” earned $725,000 in Thursday previews. This positions the low-buzz but decently-reviewed (65% and 5.7/10 on Rotten Tomatoes) animated original for an opening under $10 million. Even with DreamWorks’ history of very leggy releases (with multipliers ranging from 3.5x to 4.5x even for non-zeitgeist titles), the coming-of-age comedy is probably going to be another black mark for non-sequel/non-IP animated theatricals. Alas.