Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a 2008 American action-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg and the fourth installment in the Indiana Jones series.

Released nineteen years after the previous film, the film is set in 1957, pitting Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) against Soviet agents led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) – searching for a telepathic crystal skull.

Jones is aided by his former lover, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), and her son, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf). Ray Winstone, John Hurt, and Jim Broadbent are also part of the supporting cast.


In 1957, Indiana Jones and his partner George “Mac” McHale have been kidnapped from their archaeological excavating work in Mexico by Soviet agents working under Irina Spalko, who infiltrate a secret, governmental Nevada warehouse labelled “Hangar 51” and force Jones to locate a mummified corpse (from the Roswell UFO incident, 10 years earlier, on which he was forced to work). Shortly after, Mac reveals he has become a double agent on the KGB’s payroll. After an unsuccessful attempt to retrieve the body and a fight with Spalko’s henchman Dovchenko, Jones escapes to a model town within the Nevada Test Site, right before an atomic bomb test. He takes shelter in a lead-lined refrigerator and is rescued, decontaminated, and interrogated by FBI agents, who suspect him of working for the Soviets. Though freed through the recommendation of General Ross, he ends up put on indefinite leave of absence from Marshall College, and the dean resigns to keep Indiana’s job at the college.

Jones is approached by greaser Mutt Williams, who tells him Harold Oxley found a crystal skull in Peru and was later kidnapped along with Mutt’s mother, Mary who went after him. Jones tells Mutt of the legend of crystal skulls found in Akator, and Mutt gives Jones a letter from his mother, with a riddle from Oxley in an ancient language. Two Soviet agents attempt to capture them, but Jones and Mutt escape and, following the riddle’s meaning, reach Peru. At the local psychiatric hospital, Oxley’s scribbling on the walls and floor of his cell lead them to the grave of Francisco de Orellana, a Conquistador who searched for Akator. They find the skull at the grave, with Jones reasoning Oxley had returned it there.

Jones and Mutt are captured by Mac and the Soviets and taken to their camp in the Amazon jungle. Spalko believes the crystal skull belongs to an alien life form and holds great psychic power, and finding more skulls in Akator will grant the Soviet Union the ability to rule the world through the use of telepathy. Spalko threatens to kill Mutt if Jones doesn’t help, but when that does not work, the Soviets threaten to kill Marion Ravenwood. Spalko uses the skull on Jones to enable him to understand Oxley and identify a route to Akator. Jones and his allies try to escape, but Marion and Jones get caught in a dry sandpit, where Marion reveals that Mutt is Jones’ son, Henry Jones III. and are recaptured by the Soviets. While on their way to Akator, Jones and his team fight their way out of the KGB’s clutches, Mac tells Jones he is a CIA double agent, and Dovchenko is devoured by siafu ants. After surviving three waterfalls in an amphibious vehicle, Jones and Oxley identify a skull-like rock formation that leads them to Akator, unaware that Mac lied about being a CIA agent and has been dropping transceivers to allow the surviving Russians to track them.

Jones’ team evade the city’s guardians, gain access to the temple, and find it filled with artifacts from many ancient civilisations, identifying the aliens “archaeologists” studying the different cultures of Earth. They find and enter a chamber containing thirteen crystal skeletons, the tenth missing its skull. Spalko arrives and presents the skull to its skeleton, whereupon the skeletons telepathically offer a reward in ancient Mayan through Oxley. Spalko immediately demands to know everything and the aliens, actually extra-dimensional beings, begin reanimating and transfer their knowledge into her mind. A portal to their dimension is activated, and the other remaining Russians are drawn into it. As Jones, Marion, Mutt, and Oxley (who has regained his sanity) escape, the thirteen beings fuse into one, and in the process of receiving the overwhelming knowledge, Spalko is disintegrated and sucked into the portal. Mac is sucked in too when he tries to collect some of the ancient artifacts. Jones tries to help him up by throwing his whip, but Mac says that he will be fine and willingly lets go of Jones’ whip. Jones’ team escape and watch as the city crumbles, revealing a flying saucer rising from under the ground and vanishing into the “space between spaces”, while the hollow in the valley floor left by its departure is flooded by the waters of the Amazon.

The following year, Jones is reinstated at Marshall College and made an associate dean, and he and Marion are married.


  • Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones:
    • To prepare for the role, the 64-year-old Ford spent three hours a day at a gym, practiced with the bullwhip for two weeks, and relied on a high-protein diet of fish and vegetables.
    • Ford had kept fit during the series’ hiatus anyway, as he hoped for another film.
    • He performed many of his own stunts because stunt technology had become safer since 1989, and he also felt it improved his performance.
    • Ford felt his return would also help American culture be less paranoid about ageing (he refused to dye his hair for the role), because of the film’s family appeal: “This is a movie which is geared not to [the young] segment of the demographic, an age-defined segment […] We’ve got a great shot at breaking the movie demographic constraints.”
    • He told Koepp to add more references to his age in the script.
    • Spielberg said Ford was not too old to play Indiana: “When a guy gets to be that age and he still packs the same punch, and he still runs just as fast and climbs just as high, he’s gonna be breathing a little heavier at the end of the set piece. And I felt, ‘Let’s have some fun with that. Let’s not hide that.'”
    • Spielberg recalled the line in Raiders, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage,” and felt he could not tell the difference between Ford during the shoots for The Last Crusade and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
  • Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko:
    • A villainous Soviet agent.
    • Screenwriter David Koepp created the character.
    • Frank Marshall said Spalko continued the tradition of Indiana having a love-hate relationship “with every woman he ever comes in contact with”.
    • Blanchett had wanted to play a villain for a “couple of years”, and enjoyed being part of the Indiana Jones legacy as she loved the previous films.
    • Spielberg praised Blanchett as a “master of disguise”, and considers her his favourite Indiana Jones villain for coming up with much of Spalko’s characteristics.
    • Spalko’s bob cut was her idea, with the character’s stern looks and behaviour recalling Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love.
    • Blanchett learned to fence for the character, but during filming, Spielberg decided to give Spalko “karate chop” skills.
    • LaBeouf recalled Blanchett was elusive on set, and Ford was surprised when he met her on set outside of costume.
    • He noted, “There’s no aspect of her behaviour that was not consistent with this bizarre person she’s playing.”
  • Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood (under the married name of Marion Williams):
    • Frank Darabont’s script introduced the idea of Marion Ravenwood returning as Indiana’s love interest.
    • Allen was not aware her character was in the script until Spielberg called her in January 2007, saying, “It’s been announced! We’re gonna make Indiana Jones 4! And guess what? You’re in it!”
    • Ford found Allen “one of the easiest people to work with [he’s] ever known. She’s a completely self-sufficient woman, and that’s part of the character she plays. A lot of her charm and the charm of the character is there. And again, it’s not an age-dependent thing. It has to do with her spirit and her nature.”
    • Allen found Ford easier to work with on this film, in contrast to the first film, where she slowly befriended the private actor.
  • Ray Winstone as George “Mac” McHale:
    • A British agent whom Jones worked alongside in World War II, but has now allied with the Russians due to his financial problems.
    • The character acts as a spin on Sallah and René Belloq – Jones’s friend and nemesis, respectively, in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
    • Spielberg cast Winstone as he found him “one of the most brilliant actors around”, having seen Sexy Beast.
    • Winstone tore his hamstring during filming. “I keep getting these action parts as I’m getting older,” he remarked.
    • Like John Hurt, Winstone wished to see the script prior to committing to the film.
    • In interviews on British TV Winstone explained that he was only able to read the script if it was delivered by courier, who waited while he read the script, and returned to the US with the script once Winstone had read it.
    • His reasoning for wanting to read the script was, “If I’m gonna be in it, I want to be in it.”
    • He gave suggestions to Spielberg, including the idea of Mac pretending to be a double agent.
    • He also stated that once filming was completed he had to return the script, such was the secrecy about the film.
    • He was later presented with a copy of the script to keep.
  • John Hurt as Harold “Ox” Oxley:
    • Mutt’s surrogate father and an old friend of Indiana, whom he lost contact with in 1937.
    • Six months prior to the events of the film, he went insane after discovering the crystal skull, which commanded him to return it to Akator.
    • Frank Darabont had suggested Hurt when he was writing the screenplay.
    • The character is inspired by Ben Gunn from Treasure Island.
    • Hurt wanted to read the script before signing on, unlike other cast members who came on “because Steven – you know, ‘God’ – was doing it. And I said, ‘Well, I need to have a little bit of previous knowledge even if God is doing it.’ So they sent a courier over with the script from Los Angeles, gave it to me at three o’clock in the afternoon in London, collected it again at eight o’clock in the evening, and he returned the next day to Los Angeles.”
  • Jim Broadbent as Dean Charles Stanforth:
    • Dean of Marshall College and friend of Jones.
    • Broadbent’s character stands in for Marcus Brody, whose portrayer, Denholm Elliott, died in 1992.
    • As a tribute to Elliott, the filmmakers put a portrait and a statue on the Marshall College location, and a picture on Jones’ desk, saying he died shortly after Indiana’s father.
  • Shia LaBeouf as Mutt Williams:
    • A young, motorcycle-riding greaser and Indiana’s sidekick and son.
    • The concept of Indiana Jones having offspring was introduced in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, in which Old Indy is shown to have a daughter.
    • During development of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, this idea was incorporated into Frank Darabont’s script, with Indiana and Marion having a 13-year-old daughter.
    • However, Spielberg found this too similar to The Lost World: Jurassic Park, so a son was created instead.
    • Koepp credited the character’s creation to Jeff Nathanson and Lucas.
    • Koepp wanted to make Mutt into a nerd, but Lucas refused, explaining he had to resemble Marlon Brando in The Wild One; “he needs to be what Indiana Jones’ father thought of [him] – the curse returns in the form of his own son – he’s everything a father can’t stand”.
    • LaBeouf was Spielberg’s first choice for the role, having been impressed by his performance in Holes.
    • Excited at the prospect of being in an Indiana Jones film, LaBeouf signed on without reading the script and did not know what character he would play.
    • He worked out and gained fifteen pounds (7 kg) of muscle for the role, and also repeatedly watched the other films to get into character.
    • LaBeouf also watched Blackboard Jungle, Rebel Without a Cause and The Wild One to get into his character’s mindset, copying mannerisms and words from characters in those films, such as the use of a switchblade as a weapon.
    • Lucas also consulted on the greaser look, joking that LaBeouf was “sent to the American Graffiti school of greaserland.”
    • LaBeouf pulled his rotator cuff when filming his duel with Spalko, which was his first injury in his career, an injury which worsened throughout filming. He later pulled his groin.

Additionally, Igor Jijikine portrays Antonin Dovchenko, Spalko’s second-in-command. His character stands in for the heavily built henchmen that Pat Roach played in the three previous films, as Roach died in 2004 from throat cancer. Joel Stoffer and Neil Flynn have minor roles as FBI agents interrogating Indiana in a scene following the opening sequence. Alan Dale plays General Ross, who protests his innocence. Andrew Divoff and Pasha D. Lychnikoff play Soviet agents. Spielberg cast Russian-speaking actors so their accents would be authentic. Dimitri Diatchenko plays Spalko’s right-hand man who battles Indiana at Marshall College. Diatchenko bulked up to 250 pounds to look menacing, and his role was originally minor with ten days of filming. When shooting the fight, Ford accidentally hit his chin, and Spielberg liked Diatchenko’s humorous looking reaction, so he expanded his role to three months of filming. Ernie Reyes Jr. plays a cemetery guard.

Sean Connery turned down an offer to cameo as Henry Jones, Sr., as he found retirement too enjoyable. Lucas stated that in hindsight it was good that Connery did not briefly appear, as it would disappoint the audience when his character would not join the film’s adventure. Ford joked, “I’m old enough to play my own father in this one.” Connery later admitted that his true reason for turning the part down was that it was too small, stating: “It was not that generous a part, worth getting back into the harness and go for. And they had taken the story in a different line anyway, so the father of Indy was kind of really not that important. I had suggested they kill him in the movie, it would have taken care of it better.” The film addresses Connery’s absence by Indiana implying that both Henry, Sr. and Marcus Brody (played in the previous films by Denholm Elliott, who died in 1992) died before the film’s events. Connery later stated that he liked the film, describing it as “rather good and rather long.”Michael Sheard, who portrayed Adolf Hitler in the third film, expressed interest in appearing in the film, but he died in August 2005.

John Rhys-Davies was asked to reprise his role as Sallah as a guest in the wedding scene. He turned it down as he felt his character deserved a more substantial role.



During the late 1970’s, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg made a deal with Paramount Pictures for five Indiana Jones films. Following the 1989 release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lucas let the series end as he felt he could not think of a good plot device to drive the next instalment. He chose instead to produce the prequel television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Harrison Ford played Indiana in one episode, narrating his adventures in 1920 Chicago. When Lucas shot Ford’s role in December 1992, he realised the scene opened up the possibility of a film with an older Indiana set in the 1950’s. The film could reflect a science fiction 1950’s B-movie, with aliens as the plot device. Meanwhile, Spielberg believed he was going to mature as a filmmaker after making the trilogy, and felt his role in any future instalments would be relegated to that of mere producer.

Ford disliked the new angle, telling Lucas, “No way am I being in a Steven Spielberg movie like that.” Spielberg himself, who depicted aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, resisted it. Lucas came up with a story, which Jeb Stuart turned into a script from October 1993 to May 1994 (Stuart had previously written The Fugitive, which starred Ford). Lucas wanted Indiana to get married, which would allow Henry Jones, Sr. to return, expressing concern over whether his son is happy with what he has accomplished. After he learned that Joseph Stalin was interested in psychic warfare, he decided to have Soviets as the villains and the aliens to have psychic powers. Following Stuart’s next draft, Lucas hired Last Crusade writer Jeffrey Boam to write the next three versions, the last of which was completed in March 1996. Three months later, Independence Day was released, and Spielberg told Lucas he would not make another alien invasion film. Lucas decided to focus on the Star Wars prequels.

In a 2000 interview, Spielberg said that his children constantly asked when he would make the next Indiana Jones film, and that the project would soon be revived. The same year, Ford, Lucas, Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy met during the American Film Institute’s tribute to Ford, and decided they wanted to enjoy the experience of making an Indiana Jones film again. Spielberg also found returning to the series a respite from his many dark films during this period, such as A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, and Munich. Lucas convinced Spielberg to use aliens in the plot by saying they were not “extraterrestrials”, but “interdimensional”, with this concept taking inspiration in the superstring theory. Spielberg and Lucas discussed the central idea of a B-movie involving aliens, and Lucas suggested using the crystal skulls to ground the idea. Lucas found those artefacts as fascinating as the Ark of the Covenant, and had intended to feature them for a Young Indiana Jones episode before the show’s cancellation. M. Night Shyamalan was hired to write for an intended 2002 shoot, but he was overwhelmed writing a sequel to a film he loved like Raiders of the Lost Ark, and claimed it was difficult to get Ford, Spielberg and Lucas to focus. Stephen Gaghan and Tom Stoppard were also approached.

Frank Darabont, who wrote various Young Indiana Jones episodes, was hired to write in May 2002. His script, entitled Indiana Jones and the City of Gods, was set in the 1950s’, with ex-Nazis pursuing Jones. Spielberg conceived the idea because of real life figures such as Juan Perón in Argentina, who protected Nazi war criminals. Darabont claimed Spielberg loved the script, but Lucas had issues with it, and decided to take over writing himself. Lucas and Spielberg acknowledged the 1950’s setting could not ignore the Cold War, and the Soviets were more plausible villains. Spielberg decided he could not satirise the Nazis after directing Schindler’s List (1993), while Ford noted, “We plum[b] wore the Nazis out.”

Jeff Nathanson met with Spielberg and Lucas in August 2004, and turned in the next drafts in October and November 2005, titled The Atomic Ants. David Koepp continued on from there, giving his script the subtitle Destroyer of Worlds, based on the J. Robert Oppenheimer quote. It was changed to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as Spielberg found it more inviting a title and actually named the plot device of the crystal skulls. Lucas insisted on the Kingdom part. Koepp’s “bright [title] idea” was Indiana Jones and the Son of Indiana Jones, and Spielberg had also considered having the title name the aliens as The Mysterians, but dropped that when he remembered that was another film’s title. Koepp collaborated with Raiders of the Lost Ark screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan on the film’s “love dialogue.”


Unlike the previous Indiana Jones films, Spielberg shot the entire film in the United States, stating he did not want to be away from his family. Shooting began on 18 June 2007, in Deming, New Mexico. An extensive chase scene set at the fictional Marshall College was filmed between 28 June and 07 July at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut (where Spielberg’s son Theo was studying). To keep in line with the fact the story takes place in the 1950’s, several facades were changed, although signs were put up in between shots to tell the public what the store or restaurant actually was.

Afterwards, they filmed scenes set in the Amazon jungle in Hilo, Hawaii until August. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was the biggest film shot in Hawaii since Waterworld, and was estimated to generate US$22 million to $45 million in the local economy. Because of an approaching hurricane, Spielberg was unable to shoot a fight at a waterfall, so he sent the second unit to film shots of Brazil’s and Argentina’s Iguazu Falls. These were digitally combined into the fight, which was shot at the Universal backlot.

Half the film was scheduled to shoot on five sound stages at Los Angeles: Downey, Sony, Warner Bros., Paramount and Universal. Filming moved to Chandler Field in Fresno, California, substituting for Mexico City International Airport, on 11 October 2007. After shooting aerial shots of Chandler Airport and a DC-3 on the morning of 12 October 2007, filming wrapped. Although he originally found no need for re-shoots after viewing his first cut of the film, Spielberg decided to add an establishing shot filmed on 29 February 2008, in Pasadena, California.


Spielberg and Janusz Kamiński, who has shot all of the director’s films since 1993’s Schindler’s List, reviewed the previous films to study Douglas Slocombe’s style. “I didn’t want Janusz to modernise and bring us into the 21st century”, Spielberg explained. “I still wanted the film to have a lighting style not dissimilar to the work Doug Slocombe had achieved, which meant that both Janusz and I had to swallow our pride. Janusz had to approximate another cinematographer’s look, and I had to approximate this younger director’s look that I thought I had moved away from after almost two decades.” Spielberg also hired production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas after admiring his design work for Superman Returns. Spielberg did not want to fast cut action scenes, relying on his script instead for a fast pace, and had confirmed in 2002 that he would not shoot the film digitally, a format Lucas had adopted. Lucas felt “it looks like it was shot three years after Last Crusade. The people, the look of it, everything. You’d never know there was 20 years between shooting.” Kamiński commented upon watching the three films back-to-back, he was amazed how each of them advanced technologically, but were all nevertheless consistent, neither too brightly or darkly lit.

While shooting War of the Worlds in late 2004, Spielberg met with stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong, who doubled for Ford in the previous films, to discuss three action sequences he had envisioned. However, Armstrong was filming The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor during shooting of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so Dan Bradley was hired instead. Bradley and Spielberg used previsualisation for all the action scenes, except the motorcycle chase at Marshall College, because that idea was conceived after the animators had left. Bradley drew traditional storyboards instead, and was given free rein to create dramatic moments, just as Raiders of the Lost Ark second unit director Michael D. Moore did when filming the truck chase. Spielberg improvised on set, changing the location of Mutt and Spalko’s duel from the ground to on top of vehicles.

The Ark of the Covenant is seen in a broken crate during the Hangar 51 opening sequence. Lucasfilm used the same prop from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Guards were hired to protect the highly sought-after piece of film memorabilia during the day of its use. A replica of the staff carried by Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments was also used to populate the set to illustrate the Hangar’s history.


Producer Frank Marshall stated in 2003 that the film would use traditional stunt work so as to be consistent with the previous films. CGI was used to remove the visible safety wires on the actors when they did their stunts (such as when Indy swings on a lamp with his whip). Timed explosives were used for a scene where Indiana drives a truck through crates. During the take, an explosive failed to detonate and landed in the seat beside Ford. It did not go off and he was not injured.

Spielberg stated before production began that very few CGI effects would be used to maintain consistency with the other films. During filming significantly more CGI work was done than initially anticipated as in many cases it proved to be more practical. There ended up being a total of about 450 CGI shots in the film, with an estimated 30 percent of the film’s shots containing CG matte paintings. Spielberg initially wanted brushstrokes to be visible on the paintings for added consistency with the previous films, but decided against it. The script also required a non-deforested jungle for a chase scene, but this would have been unsafe and much CGI work was done to create the jungle action sequence. Visual effects supervisor Pablo Helman (who worked on Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones as well as Spielberg’s War of the Worlds and Munich) traveled to Brazil and Argentina to photograph elements that were composited into the final images. Industrial Light and Magic then effectively created a virtual jungle with a geography like the real Amazon.

The appearance of a live alien and flying saucer was in flux. Spielberg wanted the alien to resemble a Grey alien, and also rejected early versions of the saucer that looked “too Close Encounters“. Art director Christian Alzmann said the esthetic was “looking at a lot of older B-movie designs – but trying to make that look more real and gritty to fit in with the Indy universe.” Other reference for the visual effects work included government tapes of nuclear tests, and video reference of real prairie dogs shot in 1080p by Nathan Edward Denning.


John Williams began composing the score in October 2007; ten days of recording sessions wrapped on 06 March 2008, at Sony Pictures Studios. Williams described composing for the Indiana Jones universe again as “like sitting down and finishing a letter that you started 25 years ago”. He reused Indiana’s theme (The Raiders March) and also Marion’s from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and also composed five new motifs for Mutt, Spalko and the skull. Williams gave Mutt’s a swashbuckling feel, and homaged film noir and 1950’s B-movies for Spalko and the crystal skull respectively. The movie’s first scene is accompanied by Elvis Presley’s 1956 version of “Hound Dog”, arguably the biggest hit of the movie’s era, and an RIAA-certified 4× Platinum recording. As an in-joke, Williams incorporated a measure and a half of Johannes Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture” when Indiana and Mutt crash into the library. The soundtrack features a Continuum, an instrument often used for sound effects instead of music. The Concord Music Group released the soundtrack on 20 May 2008. In 2012, LS Scores Media released a complete version of the score on a 2-Disc CD.


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull received strongly polarized but mostly positive reviews.

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 18 May 2008, a couple of days ahead of its worldwide 21 to 23 May release. It was the first Spielberg film since 1982’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to premiere at Cannes. The film was released in approximately 4,000 theatres in the US, and dubbed into 25 languages for its worldwide release. More than 12,000 release prints were distributed, which is the largest in Paramount Pictures’ history. Although Spielberg insisted his films only be watched traditionally at theatres, Paramount chose to release the film in digital cinemas as part of a scheme to convert 10,000 US cinemas to the format. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is also notable for being the last film in the series to be distributed by Paramount, as Walt Disney Studios will release the upcoming fifth film, since its parent company’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012.

Box Office

Indiana Jones is distributed by one entity, Paramount, but owned by another, Lucasfilm. The pre-production arrangement between the two organizations granted Paramount 12.5% of the film’s revenue. As the $185 million budget was larger than the original $125 million estimate, Lucas, Spielberg and Ford turned down large upfront salaries so Paramount could cover the film’s costs. In order for Paramount to see a profit beyond its distribution fee, the film had to make over $400 million. At that point, Lucas, Spielberg, Ford, and those with smaller profit-sharing deals would also begin to collect their cut.

The film was released on Thursday 22 May 2008, in North America and grossed $25 million its opening day. In its opening weekend, the film grossed an estimated $101 million in 4,260 theatres in the US and Canada, ranking number one at the box office, and making it the third-widest opening of all time. Within its first five days of release, it grossed $311 million worldwide. The film’s total $151 million gross in the US ranked it as the second-biggest Memorial Day weekend release, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. It was the third-most-successful film of 2008 domestically, behind The Dark Knight and Iron Man, respectively, and the year’s second-highest-grossing film internationally, behind The Dark Knight. In February 2010, it was the 25th-highest-grossing film of all time domestically, and 44th-highest-grossing worldwide, as well as the most financially successful Indiana Jones film when not adjusted for inflation of ticket prices.

Home Media

The film was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD in North America on 14 October 2008, and in the UK on 10 November. This release includes a two-disc edition Blu-ray, a two-disc special-edition DVD, and a one-disc edition DVD. The film made its worldwide television premiere on USA on 09 December 2010. On 18 September 2012, it was re-released on Blu-ray as part of Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures.

Several collectible editions have also been released.

As of 16 October 2013, the film has made $117,239,631 in revenue.


The director of the Institute of Archaeology of Belize, Dr. Jaime Awe, sued Lucasfilm, Disney and Paramount Pictures on behalf of the country Belize for using the Mitchell-Hedges skull’s “likeness” in the film.

International Reaction

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation called for a ban on the film, accusing the production team of “demonising” the Soviet Union. A party official said: “In 1957 the USSR was not sending terrorists to America but sending the Sputnik satellite into space!” Spielberg responded: “When we decided the fourth instalment would take place in 1957, we had no choice but to make the Russians the enemies. World War II had just ended and the Cold War had begun. The US did not have any other enemies at the time.” The film’s depiction of Peru also received criticism from the Peruvian and Spanish-speaking public.

Awards and Accolades

The film was nominated for Best Action Movie at the 2009 Critics’ Choice Awards. The Visual Effects Society nominated it for Best Single Visual Effect of the Year (the valley destruction), Best Outstanding Matte Paintings, Best Models and Miniatures, and Best Created Environment in a Feature Motion Picture (the inside of the temple). The film ranks 453rd on Empire’s 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. It was nominated at the Saturn Awards for Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Costumes and Best Special Effects. It won Best Costumes. At the 51st Grammy Awards, John Williams won an award for the Mutt Williams theme.

In 2008, the film won the Razzie Award for Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. Comcast voted it the 11th-worst film sequel of all time. Paste magazine ranked the movie 10th on its list “The 20 Worst Sequels to Good Movies”. ranked the film 8th on its list of the “Top 10 Worst Movie Sequels”.

Indiana Jones Series

You can find a full index and overview of the Indiana Jones franchise here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Steven Spielberg.
  • Producer(s): Frank Marshall.
  • Writer(s): David Koepp (screenplay), George Lucas (story), and Jeff Nathanson (story).
  • Music: John Williams.
  • Cinematography: Janusz Kaminiski..
  • Editor(s): Michael Kahn.
  • Production: Lucasfilm Ltd.
  • Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures.
  • Release Date: 18 May 2008 (Cannes Film Festival) and 22 May 2008 (US).
  • Running Time: 122 minutes.
  • Rating: PG-13.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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