Monday, July 28, 2008

Inventing The Narrative - Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull vs Iron Man

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull is now a mere $1.3 million behind Iron Man. It's on more screens and pulled in $200,000 more than Iron Man this weekend, so this is going to be a photo finish.

Both are Paramount movies that cost about $160 million to produce. Both are only distributed by Paramount and thus Paramount won't see most of the profits. Both movies will close out with about $316 million in the domestic box office. Yet one of these films is a massive smash hit, and the other is an under performer. Does that make any sense? Of course it does, if you're an entertainment journalist!

Even if Dr. Jones does pass Mr. Stark, look for countless end of summer-end articles to claim that Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull 'underperformed compared to Iron Man'. It's a much 'sexier' narrative to claim that Indiana Jones 4 disappointed while Iron Man kicked its butt, as opposed to the truth. Indy Jones did exactly what it was expected to do. No one should have expected Phantom Menace numbers, since the highest grossing Indiana Jones film (Raiders Of The Lost Ark - $242 million) was still much lower than the lowest grossing Star Wars film (The Empire Strikes Back - $290 million with re-releases). Iron Man simply vastly surpassed expectations and turned it into a horse-race. And of course, as expected, Indiana Jones slaughtered Iron Man overseas ($800 million to $600 million). Both were popular and relatively well-liked films that were huge financial winners, and both should be credited as such.

Scott Mendelson

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