‘Indiana Jones & The Dial Of Destiny’s $82 Million+ 5-Day Total Not Far From July 4th Disaster ‘Superman Returns’ – Box Office


Refresh for chart…On the bright side for Independence Day bomb Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, its first five days at the box office of $82M aren’t as bad as Paramount/Skydance’s Terminator Genisys.

That sequel’s launch just prior to July 4, 2015 left a lot of methane in the air with $42.4M in its Wednesday to Sunday. The attempted Arnold Schwarzenegger comeback movie ended its domestic run at $89.7M, and Dial of Destiny will cross that mark before its first week is up.

Comparing July 4th tentpole hits and bombs can be tricky. Since the holiday skips around, sometimes studios launch on a Wednesday, sometimes a Friday so for the box office fanatics, everything is apples-to-oranges. The last time July 4th fell on a Tuesday was 2017 and 2006. In 2017, over the Friday-Tuesday frame, Illumination/Universal’s Despicable Me 3 led with $99M, followed by Sony/MRC’s Baby Driver with $29.97M.

With the $300M+ costing Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny tanking this weekend, it’s as though box office history is repeating itself. Back in 2006 over July 4th, there was another very expensive, highly-anticipated franchise sequel attempt which was also rejected by fans with a B+ CinemaScore, Warner Bros/DC’s Superman Returns, from Bryan Singer. The pic cost well in excess of $220M after endless stories of a runaway budget and Singer recreating corn-filled Smallville, Kansas in Australia. Like Superman Returns, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny clocked in at a way-too-long 2 hours and 34 minutes, thus delivering fewer showtimes for exhibitors (and studio) to gross more.

Unlike Lucasfilm with the first four Indy movies, Warrners had depreciated Superman from its Richard Donner highs with 1978’s Superman ($134.4M domestic) and Superman II ($108.1M domestic) to the krypton lows of the Richard Pryor 1983 comedy Superman III ($59.9M, directed by Richard Lester) and 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace which was swamped with a $15.6M lifetime cume (that pic directed by Sidney J. Furie). All four films starred Christopher Reeves as the Man of Steel. Superman Returns was Singer’s attempt to build out a sequel from the original Donner movies while also paying great homage to them. That was a smart tactic, and it’s an m.o. which has shown to please the masses on rebooted franchise sequels like J.J. Abrams’ Force Awakens and Star Trek. Rotten Tomatoes also showed Singer’s Superman being rejected by audiences at 61%, though faring better with critics at 77% certified fresh (Dial of the Destiny is the opposite — worse with critics at 69% fresh and better with audiences at 88%).

For you see, July 4th is a prime launchpad for studios to take their best shot with a questionable franchise tentpole and milk as much money as possible. If it doesn’t look like you’re going to post some sort of record over 3-days, go for the 4-day, 5-day, 6-day or 7-day that Independence Day offers. Warners took advantage of that opportunity with Superman Returns minting a $108M seven-day opening. It’s a figure that Dial of Destiny won’t even touch.

At $82M over Friday-Tuesday, Dial of Destiny is slightly ahead of Superman Returns‘ 5-day of $76M. Superman Returns had an $18.4M Saturday, Indy’s was $18.5M.

However, Superman Returns took a different path than Indiana Jones and the Dial Destiny and opted for a Wednesday launch (with Tuesday previews) on June 28, 2006, which got the pic’s seven day gross across the century mark (which had July 4th on a Tuesday). Superman Returns ended its run at $200M stateside. Sure, Superman Returns‘ 3-day of $52.5M was lower than Indy‘s, but its Monday and Tuesday at $12.98M and $10.5M are higher than Dial of Destiny‘s respective July 3 and 4 of $11.8M and $9.9M.

Years later, Singer said in an interview with VoicesFromKrypton.com that his take on Superman Returns‘ misfire was because it “was a bit nostalgic and romantic, and I don’t think that was what people were expecting, especially in the summer.” If anything, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny went straight for the nostalgia this weekend, appealing to older audiences, 40% who showed up were over 45.

Singer also said that female moviegoers didn’t show up for Superman Returns, the pic encountering serious competition back then from romantic comedy The Devil Wears Prada which made $40.1M in its June 30-July 4 box office opening. Superman Returns was the first sequel to the DC superhero franchise in 19 years vs. the 15-year gap between Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Dial of Destiny. However, such is the nature with these legacy franchises: The core audience gets older and the trick becomes attracting younger audiences. Not to mention, it’s always the older men who attend (and Indy had 43% of men over 25). Unlike Lucasfilm with Dial of Destiny, Warners did cast young on Superman Returns with fresh-face/Reeves look-alike Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel, then 23-year-old, Blue Crush rising star Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane, early X-Men Cyclops movie star James Marsden, and Sundance cinema hipster Parker Posey as Kitty Kowalski. That combo of young faces wasn’t impressive enough.

Superman Returns posted a second weekend drop of -59%. That decline isn’t that far from Indy‘s old dude comp, No Time to Die, which was down -57%. Round that, and at a -60% drop, that puts the second weekend of Dial of Destiny at around $24M and in possible danger of losing No. 1 to Sony’s horror fifthquel, Insidious: The Red Door, which tracking has at around $23M. Indy‘s only mystic power is that he’ll have all the PLFs and Imax in weekend 2, which gives him a slight edge.

Nonetheless, even with Dial of Destiny repping Harrison Ford’s swan song as the man with the hat and the whip, it will certainly be an uphill battle now for Lucasfilm when it comes to making the next Indiana Jones. 2008’s Crystal Skull left the door open with then hotshot star Shia LaBeouf taking over as Indy’s son, Mutt Williams. LaBeouf, since starring in Crystal Skull, trashed the sequel and his track record with filmmaker Steven Spielberg. However, those factors didn’t play into Dial of Destiny filmmaker James Mangold excluding Mutt from the fifthquel, the son dying in the Vietnam War, and Indy, divorced from Karen Allen’s Marion.

“That seemed to me to be right emotionally,” Mangold told Variety, “that a disillusioned hero could end up at this wonderful tumultuous moment in world history and — with his son gone and his wife gone — that he’d picture himself staying in the place he loves best, which is this imagining these worlds.”


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