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Film Franchises: Indiana Jones Quadrilogy

Over the years, many studios have tried to find ways to take the same idea that worked once, switch it around a bit and then re-market it as a sequel or even a remake.

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This week, let’s discuss a series that created an iconic movie character and brought back the kind of cliffhanger films that people loved from the 1930’s filled with lots of thrills and chills while having fun along the way. Of course, we’re talking about the Indiana Jones Quadrilogy.

Here’s a bit of stats about the 4 movies (Figures from BoxOffice Mojo)
Release Year Budget Opening weekend gross Total Domestic Gross Total Worldwide Gross
Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 $18M $8M $248M $390M
Temple of Doom 1984 $28M $25M $180M $333M
Last Crusade 1989 $48M $29M $197M $474M
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008 $185M $100M $319M $787M

When Raiders came out in 1981, nobody thought it would do as well as it did both at the box office and among critics. The idea of making an archaeology Professor an adventurer seeking treasures to preserve in a museum for the betterment of mankind was really unheard of beforehand. The casting of Harrison Ford in this iconic role (many actors turned it down including first choice Tom Selleck) helped propel him to greater stardom and also gave the character a boost since everyone already knew of the suave Han Solo. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine that a world where this movie could not be a success with George Lucas behind the story and idea and Steven Spielberg behind the camera. Together they created one of the most iconic action characters in film history. Fighting Nazis in the Middle East during WWII has never been more fun.

Three years later, they returned and gave us the next installment which takes Jones to India where he must deal with an ancient cult who worship magical stones that have great power. This one lost some steam because of the weird-ish storyline and the gross dinner cuisine, but it still was able to bring the fun into archaeological expeditions filled with thrills and chills. Five years later, our hero returned to form with the 3rd installment which once again brought him face to face with Nazis in the search for everlasting life from the cup of Christ. This time, Sean Connery tags along as Ford’s father and we are treated to such a fun movie that it almost was as good as the original. Nineteen years after that, there was a choice somewhere high up to bring this iconic hero back to the screen and it was mostly a complete disaster because the story just wasn’t good enough. Ford seemed too old and a bit rundown for the role and subsequently, many people don’t want to even consider this movie part of the franchise. The only place where it surpassed the previous films was in the box office, but that has much more to do with name recognition as opposed to being considered a great movie.

Oscar Tally

Release Year Oscar Nom. Oscar Wins
Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 8 4
Temple of Doom 1984 2 1
Last Crusade 1989 3 1
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2008 0 0

Franchise Ranking

MV5BMjA0ODEzMTc1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODM2MjAxNA@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_1aRaiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

DirectorSteven Spielberg

The Slant: Clearly the best of the whole series because of the thrills the characters endure one after the other. This is the movie that made Ford Indiana Jones.

Best Moment: Opening sequence where Indy must steal the idol and outrun the boulder.

MV5BMTQxMTUyODg2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDM2MjAxNA@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_2aThe Last Crusade (1989)

DirectorSteven Spielberg

The Slant: Connery’s addition adds so much fun and class to the series and it helps that the story once again has returned to a plot that Western Cultures have more of an understanding of, plus it’s humorous and isn’t as serious as the Doom was.

Best Moment: When both of the Jones men are trying to escape the Nazi Castle

MV5BMTMyNzI4OTA5OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDQ2MjAxNA@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_3aThe Temple of Doom (1984)

DirectorSteven Spielberg

The Slant: Loses a bit of the flair and fun of the first, but still manages to entertain enough for a wild ride despite having a very serious plot.

Best Moment: In homage to the original movie, Indy meets two swordsmen and looks for his pistol.

MV5BMTIxNDUxNzcyMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTgwOTI3MQ@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_4aThe Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

DirectorSteven Spielberg

The Slant: The least entertaining of the series.  There are many fans that don’t even include this among the series and still claim that it’s just a trilogy because this one was so bad.

Best Moment: Indy escapes the hanger at Area 51.

Final Thoughts

Spielberg and Lucas created an iconic hero that entertained the audience in 3 fantastic movies and only helped resurface nostalgic feelings when they jumped the gun and made a failed fourth installment twenty years too late.

Rob is a contributing writer for TMI. Visit his movie review website MovieRob.

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2 Comments

  1. movierob February 3, 2016
  2. movierob February 3, 2016