The demon from "Insidious: The Red Door"

As ‘Insidious’ Steals ‘Indiana Jones’ To No. 1, Disney’s Highly Expensive Franchise Faces Huge Loss

If Tom Cruise were a screenwriter, this would have his fingerprints all over it: two days before the opening of “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1” (Paramount), cinemas are in dire need of a hero. Still.

Sony opened “Insidious: The Red Door” in a week that hotly anticipated titles avoided for fear of being sandwiched between the openings of “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and “Mission.” It was a smart move: The fifth iteration of a horror franchise that’s more than a decade old grossed nearly $33 million. Its pre-market cost was $16 million.

“Sound of Freedom” (Angel) was another big surprise performer. Angel estimates $18 million for the weekend, good for #3. That’s on top of $19 million or more from the daily totals that started on July 4th. The distributor reported a total of more than $40 million.

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd.

And then there’s “Indiana”, the most expensive film in the franchise, with an estimated budget of between 350 and 400 million dollars before release. After a disappointing $60 million opening, it was down 56%.

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This ends the faint hope that older audiences, or any at all, would back it up with good word of mouth. After two weekends, its gross is $121 million domestic, $248 million worldwide, a total that likely accounts for 70% of its eventual haul. Disney takes in about 50% of ticket sales, meaning the film’s global theatrical gross is very likely to cover less than half of its overtime cost.

There’s another pain point to consider this weekend: It represents a 45% drop from last year, when “Thor: Love and Thunder” opened to $144 million. That weekend’s total was $238 million; this weekend it will be around $130 million. As a result, summer 2023 now lags summer 2022 by four percent. It has risen 14% since the beginning of the year, but the momentum is lost.

There is still hope. Starting with “Mission,” followed by anticipated interest in “Barbie” (Warner Bros. Discovery) and “Oppenheimer” (Universal), the tide could turn. That would have been better: A 14% full-year increase would only mean a total of $8.4 billion, when $9 billion was the minimum target for the year.

Co-produced by Jason Blum, “Insidious” benefited from the current lack of horror IP entries and an appeal to a young, minority-underprivileged audience who may not be impressed by franchise projects. As usual, Sony has withheld its Cinemascore; they’re usually mediocre or worse for horror titles. The weekend blocks suggest that audiences liked what they saw.

a frame from Sound of Freedom
“The Sound of Freedom”Courtesy of the Everett Collection

“Freedom” lived up to its opening day promise of a $11.6 million gross. We thank Angel for his basic marketing and promotion, including encouraging patrons in theaters to purchase tickets for others. Understandably, innovations like this can create murky tracking; most sources add the first day’s presales to the opening day figures. Even though the actual gross is slightly less than the reported $40 million, it’s an incredible achievement.

Lionsgate opened its acclaimed “Joyride” to a modest gross of just under $6 million for issue #6. Large openings for smaller films are now common; provide PVOD promotion and avoid the risks of platform releases. However, this R-rated comedy centered on Chinese-American characters (younger than “Crazy Rich Asians”) had a B- Cinemascore, suggesting it may have trouble sustaining a run.

Most of the reserves have reported good results. (Except for the second weekend of Universal’s “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken,” down 49% to #10). Spider-Verse” (Sony). The Marvel film was down 33 percent, roughly the same as “No Hard Feelings” (Sony) and “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” (Paramount).

The take for “Elemental” is encouraging, but it grossed $109 million domesticly, $252 million worldwide, for a film costing more than $300 million.

“Asteroid City” (Focus) reached $24 million. “Past Lives” (Focus) has so far exceeded $8 million. Both were credible results for films aimed at older and more sophisticated viewers.

Top 10

1. Insidious: The Red Door (Sony) NEW – Metacritic: 45; Est. budget: 16 million dollars

$32,650,000 in 3,188 theaters; PTA (average per theater): $10,242; Cumulative: $32,650,000

2. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Disney) Week 2; Last weekend #1

$26,500,000 (-56%) in 4,600 theaters (no change); PTA: $5,761; Cumulative: $121,205,000

3. Sound of freedom (Angel) NEW – Cinemascore: A+; Metacritic: 60; Est. budget: 15 million dollars

$18,220,000 in 2,850 theaters; PTA: $6,172; Cumulative: $40,207,000

4. Elemental (Disney) Week 4; Last weekend #3

$9,600,000 (-21%) in 3,440 (-210) theaters; PTA: $2,791; Cumulative: $109,192,000

5. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Sony) Week 6; Last weekend #2

$8,000,000 (-33%) in 3,023 (-382) theaters; PTA: $2,646; Cumulative: $357,648,000

6. Ride of joy (Lionsgate) NEW – Cinemascore: B-; Metacritic: 75

$5,850,000 in 2,820 theaters; PTA: $2,074; Cumulative: $5,850,000

7. No hard feelings (Sony) Week 3; Last weekend #4

$5,250,000 (-33%) in 2,686 (-522) theaters; PTA: $1,955; Cumulative: $40,412,000

8. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (Paramount) Week 5; Last weekend #5

$5,000,000 (-32%) in 2,475 (-377) theaters; PTA: $2,020; Cumulative: $146,723,000

9. The Little Mermaid (Disney) Week 7; Last weekend #7

$3,500,000 (-35%) in 2,080 (-350) theaters; PTA: $1,683; Cumulative: $289,039,000

10. Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken (Universal) Week 2; Last weekend #6

$2,800,000 (-49%) in 3,408 (+8) theaters; PTA: $822; Cumulative: $11,600,000

Other specialized titles

Movies (limited, expansions of limited releases, as well as award-oriented) are listed by week out, starting with those open this week; after the first two weeks, only films with grossing over $5,000 are listed.

Amanda (Oscilloscope) NEW – Metacritic: 81; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2022

$9,450 in theaters; PTA: $4,725

The lesson (Bleecker Street) NEW – Metacritic: 64; Festivals include: Tribeca 2023

$157,752 in 268 theaters; PTA: $588

Biosphere (IFC) NEW – Metacritic: 58; Festivals include: Toronto 2022; also on VOD

$34,000 in 48 theaters; PTA: $708

Once upon a time in Uganda (Yellow Veil) NEW – Metacritic: 77; Festivals include: Doc NYC 2021

$9,400 in 8 theaters; PTA: $1,175

The Wicker Man (1973) RE-EDITION

$6,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $6,000

Everyone (Focus) Week 2

$54,0000 in 255 theaters (without changes); PTA: $208; Cumulative: $258,000

Contempt (Rialto) RE-EDITION Week 2

$16,200 in 2 (+1) halls; PTA: $8,100; Cumulative: $45,049

See Paris again (Music box) Week 3

$5,828 in 3 theaters (unchanged); Cumulative: $33,012

City of Asteroids (Focus) Week 4

$2,230,000 in 1,111 (-790) theaters; Cumulative: $23,994,000

Past lives (A24) Week 6

$1,001,000 in 771 (-135) halls; Cumulative: $8,384,000

You hurt my feelings (A24) Week 7; also on PVOD 68

$25,502 in 60 (-8) theaters; Cumulative: $4,800,000

It’s not over (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 8; also on PVOD 30

$9,437 in 19 (-11) theaters; Cumulative: $691,127