Indiana Jones 5 was announced by Disney last week after years of speculation as to whether the House of Mouse would go with a reboot and a younger actor or cast Harrison Ford in a probable swan song.
Disney went with the latter idea, signing Ford for what will presumably be his final appearance in the role. Automatically, the online film community went into a tizzy speculating as to how much money this next installment would gross.
The Indiana Jones franchise has been an undeniable success throughout its close to 40-year history. Raiders of the Lost Ark got the ball rolling in 1981 with a staggering $212 million gross. Computed to 2016 dollars, Box Office Mojo reports that the figure would be closer to $672 million.
Throw in the re-release figures, and you’re up to $770 million domestically, with an additional $141 million overseas, for an overall total approaching $1 billion.
Now consider the fact that, when Raiders hit theaters, it had zero history behind it, only a good script, capable direction, and the swaggering star power of a young Ford to propel it.
Throughout its lifespan domestically, it has sold 88.5 million tickets.
That’s an important number to remember when you consider that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom moved 53.5 million tickets, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade moved even fewer at 49.4 million tickets, and that film had the advantage of being billed as the “final” Indiana Jones in the trilogy until the ill-conceived Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came along almost 20 years later.
Despite the fact that Skull (released in 2008) had more anticipation than any of the other films behind it — after all, it was the chance to see Ford in his signature role after many believed it would never happen again, and it reunited him with series favorite Karen Allen — the film only managed to sell 44.1 million tickets.
See the trajectory here?
Every Indiana Jones film has done worse than the last when you break it down to the amount of people who are actually getting off their couches and driving to the theater to go see it.
A Star Wars success story Indiana Jones 5 will not be, not only because numbers don’t lie, but also because of the following reasons.
1. ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ is a widely hated film among fans.
If Steven Spielberg and George Lucas had knocked it out of the park with the fourth Indy film, then there would be a lot more excitement in fans finding out that they get another film before Harrison Ford rides off into the sunset.
Instead, all that most can talk about is hating Shia LaBeouf and rolling their eyes non-stop through an idiotic refrigerator scene. The film lacked all sense of fun and felt as stale as the man in the hat looked.
2. The decision to bring back Harrison Ford leaves little-to-no future for the franchise.
Ford has much fewer birthdays ahead of him than he does behind. That’s not to be mean; it’s just saying the guy is 73 years old now, and he has a knack for getting himself injured, with his airplane crash and then snapping his ankle like a twig on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Making him the star of a summer action blockbuster is hard to swallow even for his most ardent supporters.
Casting a younger actor in the part would have allowed Disney to revitalize the franchise in the same way they have so masterfully done with Star Wars.
Not giving the fans that show of confidence in the character smacks of simply wanting a quick cash grab on the fumes of a dying series. It isn’t something that excites the base, nor is it something that will bring in younger viewers. And without them, the Indiana Jones series has no shot at longevity.
[Image via Raiders of the Lost Ark screen grab]