A close up of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

It’s Complicated to Call ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ a Flop

Right now, the internet is trying to claim Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a flop. On the one hand, it is sort of true, but it’s not as cut and dried as people not going to see the movie. On the contrary, they went to see the film just as they had done with action movies before. In comparison, Dial of Destiny made about what Mission: Impossible – Fallout made its opening weekend, pre-pandemic, so it wasn’t a bad opening weekend by any stretch of the imagination—just not one that lined up with the money the studio bet on it.

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Dial of the Destiny brought in about $130 million in its opening weekend, with $60 million domestically and roughly $70 million internationally. The film, which cost about $250–300 million (while Fallout only cost a reported $190 million), could still break even, but to do so, once other costs are factored in, it would likely need to go on to somewhat outdo Fallout’s $791 million box office total—similar to the box office total of the last Indy film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, also at about $791 million.

That’s not impossible, given that it seems to be earning much higher audience scores than its predecessor (at least on Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s got farther to go, considering it opened much lower. It remains to be seen if the positive buzz around this installment will be different enough from Crystal Skull’s reception to make up the difference over time. Still, I would not necessarily label it a flop.

The movie’s downfall mostly comes down to the fact that it wasn’t a cheap movie to make—much more expensive than Crystal Skull’s $185 million budget. That budget increase is partly because of COVID restrictions and the inflation that comes into play, but also a number of other factors. So, to consider it a flop right out of the gate isn’t exactly true, especially when compared to other movies like it, Crystal Skull aside.

It is an action film that is part of a franchise. Looking at films like Mission: Impossible – Fallout or even No Time To Die, the $130 million opening isn’t that far off from what movies of a similar caliber made opening weekend (about $150 million each, worldwide). The difference here is just that, compared to previous Indiana Jones movies, Dial of Destiny cost a lot more to make than the rest—although its budget was similar to No Time To Die, which reportedly went on to lose money but also came out in 2021, when audiences were more reluctant to return to movie theaters.

The movie just cost a lot to make

When you look at the nearly $300 million price tag on Dial of Destiny compared to its predecessors, it is a stark difference. Raiders of the Lost Ark cost $20 million to make, Temple of Doom was roughly $28 million, and Last Crusade was the most expensive of the original three Indiana Jones films coming in at $48 million dollars to make. Those three movies all came out in the ’80s, but jump to 2008 when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was made, and it cost $185 million. That was fifteen years ago and things do cost more. So it isn’t that outrageous that Dial of Destiny was more expensive in general it just is, instead, a commentary on the price tag of movies in the modern world and whether studios are wise to pour so much money into them.

Personally, I think that Dial of Destiny could still break even. It just would have been a bigger success had the film not cost so much to make in the first place. It is the state of films in 2023, but it isn’t necessarily fair to call it a “flop” when it did about just as well as every other movie of its kind.

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.