- Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny box office: Bob Iger and his fellow Walt Disney Studios suits know things are bad – really bad – when their mega-budget final entry in the Indiana Jones franchise falls behind modestly budgeted stuff like the critically excoriated Insidious: The Red Door and the QAnon-tinged Sound of Freedom.
- In other weekend box office news, the R-rated comedy Joy Ride – directed by, written by, and centering on women of East Asian lineage – has turned out to be a sizable flop.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny box office: Things are really bad when your branded, mega-budget spectacle falls behind cheapo stuff
July 7–9 weekend box office: Embarrassingly, Lucasfilm and the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures’ unenthusiastically received mega-budget action adventure Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – directed by James Mangold and bringing back Harrison Ford in his final Indiana Jones incarnation – failed to top the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office chart on its second weekend out.
But why would that be “embarrassing”?
Isn’t that the way things work during the summer blockbuster season, when each weekend a new huge movie takes the no. 1 spot?
The no. 1 movie this past weekend wasn’t Barbie (box office article) or Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One or Oppenheimer or Blue Beetle (box office article), but the critically lambasted supernatural horror thriller Insidious: The Red Door, the latest entry in the low-budget Insidious franchise which has been going strong (in relation to cost) for a dozen years.
Directed by Patrick Wilson, who also costars opposite Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins, and Hiam Abbass, Insidious: The Red Door grossed a solid $33 million – far above the expected $18–$23 million – from 3,188 theaters according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com. Budget: $16 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses which, considering the brand, were likely higher than the rule-of-thumb “around 50 percent” of the production cost).
At no. 2, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny earned $27.4 million from 4,600 locations – down 55 percent from its underwhelming opening-weekend performance ($60.4 million from June 30–July 2; going up to $83.9 million from June 30–July 4).
Jim Caviezel (!) beat Harrison Ford on July 4th – sort of
Adding insult to injury, on American Independence Day, July 4, the iconic Indiana Jones, whose very name evokes images of the American Heartland – wide open spaces, endless cornfields, Donald Trump rallies – trailed the independently released B flick Sound of Freedom, purportedly based on “true” events about child trafficking in Central and South America.
Distributed by the Utah-based, Christian-proselytizing Angel Studios (His Only Son, the streaming series The Chosen), directed by Alejandro Monteverde, and starring Jim Caviezel (who has spouted deranged QAnon garbage) and Mira Sorvino (believe it or not, an Oscar winner – in the supporting category for Mighty Aphrodite, 1995), Sound of Freedom took in $14.2 million* from 2,634 locations on July 4. Dial of Destiny scored a mere $11.7 million.
Up until July 9, Sound of Freedom, which is performing especially well in U.S. states with sizable Fundamentalist Christian/right-wing populations – e.g., Texas, Arizona, Florida, Utah – raked in a respectable $41.7 million domestically (including $19.7 million at no. 3 over the weekend). International chances, however, are all but nil for this sort of fare. Budget: Reportedly $14.5 million.
One last word about Sound of Freedom: Shot in 2018, the “inspirational” action thriller has a 76 percent approval rating and 6.8/10 average at Rotten Tomatoes. Now, do get a hold of yourself. Don’t tear your hair out. At least not all of it.
* Found at Box Office Mojo, that figure was provided by Angel Studios. According to The Hollywood Reporter it includes “$2.6 million in third-party ticket sales generated on Angel’s website.” Without that extra “third-party” amount – tickets supposedly bought as “gifts” for others (who or may not show up at screenings) – Sound of Freedom opened with $11.6 million, or slightly behind Dial of Destiny.
But QAnoners, assorted right-wingers, and sympathizers shouldn’t fret. Sound of Freedom was the no. 1 title in the United States this past Monday and Tuesday, having collected an extra $7.8 million. Total after 12 days: $49.5 million – or more than enough to make it a profitable venture. (Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was the no. 3 movie on both days, also trailing Insidious: The Red Door.)
The harder they fall
In response to the media’s hand-wringing about Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’s subpar domestic debut, former New York Times film critic Janet Maslin tweeted: “Funny how this catastrophic flop has grossed nearly $250m [worldwide] in just over a week,” later adding, “Happy to ignore the budget” and “There are things that matter more than money. The strength of the franchise. The global affection for Harrison Ford. The fact that they made this because it needed to be made. The fact that it’s outperforming either of Spielberg’s last 2 films, both of which deserved better.”
Maslin, of course, is free to happily ignore the Dial of Destiny budget while comparing an Indiana Jones franchise title to The Fabelmans and West Side Story, but the Walt Disney Studios suits can’t afford that luxury. After all, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny cost an Alaska-sized $295 million, plus marketing and distribution expenses that likely have catapulted its total price tag to the vicinity of $400–$450 million.
So, how much has Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny grossed to date?
After 11 days (up to Monday, July 10), Dial of Destiny has scored $125.4 million domestically and $127.1 million internationally. Worldwide grand total: $252.5 million.
How good – or bad – is that?
Well, that would be a phenomenal figure for Insidious: The Red Door, Sound of Freedom, Asteroid City, and Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken. And an otherworldly one for the rerelease of the Jean-Luc Godard-Brigitte Bardot collaboration Contempt.
On the other hand, for an ultra-mega-budget Indiana Jones movie, it’s downright abysmal – about $550–$600 million less than what it needs to break even at the box office alone. Compounding matters, Disney is already suffering from an acute case of box-office-duditis following the global underperformance of its two recent mega-releases, The Little Mermaid (box office article) and Elemental (see further below).
For the record, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’s top international markets to date – none boasting particularly impressive figures – are the United Kingdom/Ireland ($16.7 million), France ($11.8 million), Japan ($9.6 million), Australia ($7.5 million), Germany ($7.4 million), and Spain ($7.3 million). The action adventure has underperformed/flopped in China, Mexico, Brazil, and Italy.
Dial of Destiny vs. previous Indiana Jones movies
For comparison’s sake: Below are the domestic and international box office grosses of the previous four Indiana Jones movies, all distributed by Paramount Pictures, directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Harrison Ford.
As anyone can see, there’s absolutely no chance that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will get even near the global take of its predecessors if we were to take inflation into account. (Below you’ll also find the inflation-adjusted domestic gross of each title’s original release.)
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opened domestically with $100.1 million ($152 million from Thu.–Mon., Memorial Day) from 4,260 locations in May 2008, ending its run with $317.1 million (inflation adjusted: approx. $465 million), in addition to $473.6 million internationally. Worldwide total: $790.7 million. Budget: $185 million. Also in the cast: Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, and Karen Allen.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade opened domestically with $29.4 million from 2,327 locations in May 1989, ending its run with $197.2 million (inflation adjusted: approx. $523 million), in addition to an estimated $277 million internationally. Worldwide total: $474.2 million. Budget: $48 (that’s forty-eight – no missing zero) million. Also in the cast: River Phoenix, Sean Connery, and Alison Doody.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom opened domestically with $25.3 million from 1,687 locations in May 1984, ending its run with $179.9 million (inflation adjusted: approx. $564 million), in addition to an estimated $153.2 million internationally. Worldwide total: $333.1 million. Budget: $28 (twenty-eight) million. Also in the cast: Kate Capshaw and this year’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once).
- Raiders of the Lost Ark opened domestically with $8.3 million from 1,078 locations in June 1981, ending its run with $212.2 million (inflation adjusted: approx. $804 million). Following a trio of rereleases, Raiders of the Lost Ark took in $248.1 million in the U.S. and Canada. International gross: An estimated $141.8 million. Worldwide total: $389.9 million. Budget: $18 (that’s eighteen) million. Also in the cast: Karen Allen.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny cast
Besides veteran Oscar nominee Harrison Ford (Witness, 1985), the Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny cast includes another movie veteran and Oscar nominee, Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory, 2019) in what amounts to an extended cameo, in addition to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Ethann Isidore, Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Kretschmann, and Raiders of the Lost Ark alumni Karen Allen and John Rhys-Davies.
Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koepp, and director James Mangold received screenplay credit. Music by Steven Spielberg fave and five-time Oscar winner John Williams (Jaws, 1975; Star Wars, 1977; etc.), who also composed the score for the previous four Indiana Jones films and who happens to have turned 91 last February.
Dial of Destiny reviews have been at best lukewarm: 60 percent approval rating and 6.1/10 average (same as Sound of Freedom…) among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics.”
Top Six movies: Woman-focused The Hangover-ish comedy Joy Ride flops
Rounding out the Top Six movies on this past weekend’s domestic box office chart were:
- At no. 4, Peter Sohn’s romantic fantasy comedy-drama Elemental grossed $10 million (down a minuscule 17 percent on its fourth weekend). Domestic cume: $109.6 million. Worldwide: An underwhelming – though not as cataclysmic as originally predicted – $253.8 million. Voice cast: Leah Lewis and Mamoudou Athie.
- At no. 5, Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson’s computer-animated superhero actioner Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse grossed $8 million (down 33 percent on its sixth weekend). Domestic cume: $357.7 million. Worldwide: $642.3 million (as mentioned in previous posts, the international market has been – relatively speaking – cool on this one: Only 44.3 percent of the global total). Voice cast: Shameik Moore and Hailee Steinfeld.
- At no. 6, feature film newcomer Adele Lim’s generally well-reviewed R-rated comedy Joy Ride debuted with a paltry $5.8 million from 2,820 venues. Worldwide cume: 5.8 million. (Featuring no name stars and no major studio backing, international chances for this one are insignificant.) In the female-centered cast: Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu. Distributor: Lionsgate. Budget: Reportedly $30–$35 million, which makes Joy Ride a sizable box office flop.
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Box Office: Things Are Bad When…” notes
Unless otherwise noted, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Box Office: Things Are Bad When…” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Insidious: The Red Door, Sound of Freedom, Joy Ride, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.
Harrison Ford Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny movie image: Lucasfilm | Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Sabrina Wu, Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, and Stephanie Hsu Joy Ride movie image: Ed Araquel | Lionsgate.
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Box Office: Things Are Bad When…” last updated in September 2023.