BO Report: ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ musters less than expected

'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny'. (Photo: ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

The fifth and final instalment in the Indiana Jones franchise reached no. 1 at the box office last weekend, albeit not at the heights exhibitors were hoping for.

In North America, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny bowed to $US60 million, a result that has been labelled as  “disastrous” given the production budget is more than $US295 million.

The Australian result is behind, pro-rata. Here, Disney opened the title on 602 screens, generating $4.9 million, or $5.8 million once Wednesday’s opening is included. That’s a far cry less than 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which debuted to $9.8 million.

That Indy’s fifth set of adventures opened below projections has largely been put down middling reviews and the fact it appeals primarily to an older audience – the franchise is now 45 years old – who typically don’t run out en masse first weekend.

Indiana Jones wasn’t as much of a cluster foxtrot as we were expecting,” Wallis Cinemas programming manager David Simpson tells IF, though notes there was adequate turnouts for evening sessions.

Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell tells IF he hopes the film may appeal more to younger moviegoers as the school holidays go on.

“A bit of a disappointing opening number in the US and here, but given the older skew it may take some time to get going,” he says.

Sydney’s Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace was the highest grossing independent site in NSW for Dial of Destiny, though GM Alex Temesvari says the test is how it performs over the coming weeks.

“As it appeals to an overall older crowd that doesn’t necessarily rush out first weekend, I’m cautiously optimistic that it will have decent legs but we’re clearly not talking about a Top Gun Maverick or Bond level hit.”

Indy’s box office reign will no doubt be short lived. This Saturday sees the highly-anticipated early release of Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning; Paramount has Tom Cruise in Sydney today for its Australian premiere. The month ahead is a busy one for exhibitors, with behind the Cruise actioner looming the double drop of Warner Bros’ Barbie and Universal’s Oppenheimer on July 20.

Of the other new releases, Indian comedy Carry on Jatta 3 came in at no. 8. Forum Distribution opened the Punjabi-language title on 56 screens, earning $618,862; that was the highest screen average in the top 20 by far at $11,051. Just behind it was another Indian film, romantic drama Satyaprem Ki Katha, distributed by Mindblowing, which made $171,767 from 59 screens.

In fact, new release foreign-language content made up a quarter of the top 20, with Egyptian film Beit El Ruby (Ceema Films) opening to $85,877; Tamil-language Maamannan taking $70,215 for MKS Retail and Telugu actioner Spy earning $54,125 for Tolly Movies.

Other new releases included Sydney Sweeney thriller Reality, which scraped into the top 20 with $41,644 from 36 screens.

Melbourne’s Cinema Nova topped the charts nationally on the film, which follows verbaitm the FBI’s interrogation of US intelligence leaker Reality Winner.

“A personal favourite of recent months, we hope word of mouth pushes the film along as people are no doubt confused by the film’s title, strange approach to the true-life material and perplexingly named protagonist,” CEO Kristian Connelly tells IF.

“It’s not an easy film to get a handle on if you’re disinclined toward more outré material.”

Overall, the top 20 titles grossed $15.3 million, up 23 per cent on the previous weekend. With the exception of The Flash, which continued to fall, most holdover titles held well or got a boost from school holidays now underway in most states.

Last week’s no. 1, Paramount’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts had a decent hold, dropping only 39 per cent into its second weekend with $2.2 million, bringing it to $7.6 million overall.

Disney/Pixar’s Elemental got a significant 45 per cent boost from the school holidays, generating $2 million in its third frame to move to $6.7 million.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse dropped only 16 per cent in its fifth to $1.8 million, with the Sony animation climbing to $27.7 million.

Stablemate No Hard Feelings had a strong second weekend, dipping just 22 per cent to $1.3 million. The Jennifer Lawrence comedy now stands at $3.9 million.

Thanks to school holidays, Disney’s The Little Mermaid fell just 9 per cent to $859,924 across its sixth weekend, advancing to $20.6 million.

Warner Bros./DC’s The Flash earned just $696,905 in its third, moving to $8 million, while rounding out the top 10 was Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which is just shy of $40 million after nine weekends, having made an additional $109,902.

Local documentary John Farnham: Finding the Voice remains in the top 20. It stands at $4.3 million after earning $60,112 in its seventh.

Exhibitors are excited by the prospects of Warwick Thornton’s The New Boy, which Roadshow will release this Thursday.

Screen Australia announced today The New Boy is among the films to feature in its latest Our Cinema campaign, which will also provide publicity support to Benjamin Millepied’s Carmen (July 13), Danny and Michael Philippou’s Talk to Me (July 27), The Force of Nature: The Dry 2 (August 24) and Paul Goldman’s EGO: The Michael Gudinski Story (August 31).

Temesvari says the Orpheum’s biggest success story last weekend was a 700-seat sold out Q&A event with The New Boy star and producer Cate Blanchett and Thornton, which “got a phenomenal response from our audience”.

Similarly in Melbourne Nova had two sold out sessions of the film with a live intro by Blanchett and Thornton.

“The film was well received and we’re looking forward to a solid opening this Thursday,” says CEO Connelly.

Connelly is also optimistic for release of Force of Nature: The Dry 2 and Talk to Me, alongside arthouse titles from North America like Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City and Celine Song’s already Oscar-tipped Past Lives, and of course, Oppenheimer and Barbie.

“We also have done blockbuster business on a recent rerelease of four Wong Kar Wai titles – In The Mood For Love, Happy Together, Fallen Angels, Chungking Express – as well as limited sessions of Claire Denis’ Beau Travail. We believe that in the absence of standout upscale titles, audiences are instead finding their arthouse fill in the form of repertory titles of note. This might suggest that, with some stellar titles scheduled for the second half of 2023, that we might finally build the momentum that has been lacking ever since the extraordinary slate of titles held over until after the pandemic finally hit the market at the end of 2021 (Dune, French Dispatch, Licorice Pizza, Last Night In Soho, House Of Gucci, Belfast),” he says.

“We hope audiences will finally be able to get back into a visitation rhythm thanks to some unmissable releases.”

Of the other Australian titles still in release, Roadshow’s Sweet As now stands at $438,033 after earning $11,036 in its fifth weekend.

Doco The Last Daughter, which releases on Netflix soon for NAIDOC Week, is at $135,747 for Bonsai after three weekends, while stablemate Limbo, which will air on the ABC for NAIDOC Week is at $260,823 after seven.

Madman’s Bob Brown doco The Giants is still playing on handful of screens, on $570,459 after 11 weekends.