Guest Author - Peggy Maddox
The first three Indiana Jones movies were the highest grossing films for their years of release:
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark $384,100,000;
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom $333,100,000;
1989 Indiana Jones the Last Crusade $474,200,000.
Number Four, Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, looks as if it may be on the way to boast the same for the year 2008.
Aging or not, Ford (66) apparently retains his charisma for movie fans.
The first weekend showing of Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls blew away the competition, bringing in $151 million in domestic ticket sales.
How does that compare with other recent releases?
Iron Man (2008) garnered $98.6 million in its first weekend.
Prince Caspian (2008) earned $56.6 million in first weekend domestic sales.
Horton Hears A Who! (2008) took in $45 million its first weekend.
The figures tell the story. People put their money on what entertains them.
Here's a look at what Americans were flocking to see fifty years before each of the first three Indiana Jones movies enjoyed its spectacular success.
Sci-fi and horror aren't new interests for American movie-goers. The top grossing film in 1931 was Frankenstein with $12,000,000 for the year. Boris Karloff starred as the monster in this classic film version of Mary Shelley's tale of the scientist who created a living being only to abandon it.
In 1934 the honor went to a sentimental love story. The Painted Veil earned $1,700,000 that year. Greta Garbo starred as the spoilt society woman in this film version of Somerset Maugham's story. George Brent was the womanizing cad, and Herbert Marshall the noble, long-suffering husband. A remake featuring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts was made in 2006.
And in 1939, well, when we adjust for inflation, the record made in 1939 is still standing: Gone With the Wind.
GWTW's first weekend gross was $945,000 in 1939 dollars, but consider: more people went to the movies in 1939 than go in 2008, and they didn't pay any seven bucks a ticket.
Consider also that in 1939 gasoline cost 10 cents a gallon, two cents more than a loaf of bread. A pound of hamburger meat cost 14 cents, and you could buy a brand new car for $700.
Taking everything into consideration, Gone With the Wind's gross earnings expressed in terms of today's money exceeds a billion dollars ($1,390,067,000). Beat that, Spielberg!