With the exception of a handful of titles, the summer has been rather disappointing, box-office-wise. The latest disappointment comes with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which raked in only $60 million domestically, even if it opened as the week’s number one movie. It wouldn’t be a terrible opening if the budget weren’t estimated to be…*checks notes*…between $250 to $329 million!!!!!!!!!! It’s one of the most expensive movies of all time and will likely be one of the biggest box office bombs ever, on par with The Flash, which opened two weeks ago and has fizzled out of the top five this weekend.
What happened? There will surely be lots of takes on social media, but the negative buzz from the Cannes Film Festival is definitely a factor. Yes, I understand that the last Indiana Jones film also premiered at Cannes, but the landscape has changed from 2008 to 2023. If the movie has an initially negative buzz, box office prospects will be somewhat limited. And while, like Elemental, reviews improved in the wake of Dial of Destiny‘s release, the damage was already done. If the initial chatter about the movie is that it’s “disappointing,” will that encourage audiences to go to a cinema to see it, even if recent reviews are more favorable? Probably not. The same thing happened with The Flash but in reverse. If the initial reception is overwhelmingly positive, but then it starts to flip closer to its release, initial audience members who wanted to see it probably won’t.
As a brand, Lucasfilm has also suffered greatly with the release of the Star Wars sequel trilogy and has had a hard time getting a movie made for a theater since Solo: A Star Wars Story, which also bombed commercially. And if Steven Spielberg‘s latest movies have a hard time making money at the box office, then maybe audiences aren’t also enthused at the idea of another Indiana Jones film with an older Harrison Ford, and without the off-screen talents of Spielberg, even if director James Mangold has made some commercially viable films with his Wolverine films and Ford v. Ferrari.
Two weeks ago, I wrote in this column that I expected Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, to bomb, which it did. The film has scored the worst opening in DreamWorks’ history, with a lousy $5.2 million. In this case, it may be preferable to release it on VOD in a couple of weeks from now, as it’s guaranteed not to have any legs and make a profit in cinemas. It hurts even more when your budget is $70 million, though, in hindsight, it’s not as disastrous as Elemental’s opening. What happened? Blame the marketing. It’s difficult to market an original animated movie these days. Look at Elemental. Perfect example. Yes, they’ve improved, but it still won’t make a profit.
Has the theatrical market changed? Maybe, but you can no longer expect audiences to crave an original movie unless it has some perceived value. Here’s hoping July will be a better month for movies, as Tom Cruise, Christopher Nolan, and Greta Gerwig will try to save the theatrical experience with Mission: Impossible Dead Reckoning – Part One, Oppenheimer, and Barbie. Hopefully, they will ALL deliver.
Here’s the full list of the top ten films this weekend:
- Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Disney): $60M – 4,600 theatres
- Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Sony/Marvel): $11.5M (-39.5%) – 3,405 theatres
- Elemental (Disney): $11.3M (-38.7%) – 3,650 theatres
- No Hard Feelings (Sony): $7.5M (-50%) – 3,208 theatres
- Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount): $7.0M (-40.4%) – 2,852 theatres
- Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken (Universal): $5.2M – 3,400 theatres
- The Little Mermaid (Disney): $5.1M (-39.8%) – 2,430 theatres
- The Flash (Warner Bros/DC): $5.0M (-67%) – 2,718 theatres
- Asteroid City (Universal): $3.8M (-58%) – 1,901 theatres
- Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.3 (Disney): $1.8M (-48.1%) – 1,165 theatres
Source: Box Office Mojo