One of the most iconic phrases from the movie, The Goonies, is still shouted (in our best imitation of the loveable Sloth) from friend to friend today, some thirty years after the film was released. In another favorite film, the “esteemed burglar” (as Thorin Oakenshield described him), the furry-footed, no-need-for-adventure-here Mr. Bilbo Baggins, has made the transition from children’s story to a version adults love too: big screen cinema success. Though some thirty-odd years separate the releases of these two charming adventure stories, they both have found their way into our hearts, and will remain there for a lifetime.
Numerous characters from treasure hunting movies have had profound impacts not only on our individual lives, but on our society. Breaking down blockbuster treasure hunting movie series can show you how much these beloved movies play a part in our culture today.
Let’s dust off of our pants, grab our sable fedora, and crack the whip as Indiana Jones enters the discussion. Swinging in to stand beside our favorite archeologist, is non-other than the quit witted, fast-talking, swash-buckling (“But, you have heard of me, haven’t you?”) pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow; savvy?
“This is the day you will always remember as the day you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow.”- Jack Sparrow
Which isn’t very likely if you are talking about a film that’s up against a treasure hunting film. The three series mentioned above: Pirates of the Caribbean ($3,073,735,967), Indiana Jones ($1,978,060,564), and The Hobbit ($816,746,371*) each have grossed numbers billions internationally. Having the fame, finances, and following to produce such vastly successful movies is a rarity seldom duplicated, but these treasure hunting movie franchises continually succeed.
Their popularity has also given them a vast amount of financial revenue from merchandise post-shoot. Soundtracks, movie posters, quirky memorabilia (you know you have some in your house; we do), the success of these movies transcends the box office. “It’s not the years, honey; it’s the mileage.” –Indiana Jones
Staying power is a huge part of the measure of success, or how much you can “get out of them” as the clever Dr. Jones stated.
Indiana Jones’s cult-like following inspired George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to relaunch the series with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull roughly twenty years after the release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Many people watched The Last Crusade when they were fifteen, then able to take their own fifteen-year-old child to see Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Pirates of the Caribbean has enjoyed lasting success as well. When what many thought to be the final installment in the series, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, was released in 2007, it was the last time two iconic characters from the series would be featured: Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightley). However, Jack Sparrow was not to be marooned, and in 2011, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was released. Though the numbers in gross earnings dropped from World’s End ($309,420,425* to $241,063,875*), the popularity of the story remains strong, and the series is setting sail for the fifth installment, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales with a release date set for 2017.
If you review the contract, as Mr. Baggins did, you would have probably been surprised to see the Hobbit cut up into three movies, not one. Though Peter Jackson’s vision may not have been the loveable children story we remember from Tolkien’s telling, it did enthrall audiences for almost ten hours of screen time (with some epic fight scenes, interracial—between a dwarf and an elf—love triangles, and plenty of moments that left us wondering, “Did that really just happen?”) Though it wasn’t the rendition of the Hobbit much of the viewing public expected (it got a lot of bad reviews), it did generate interest from an audience that already knew the story, and introduced it to millions who had never known the tale; all the while accruing some staggeringly high numbers at the box office.
All three of the movies have extended far beyond the silver screen: Indiana Jones and Jack Sparrow are very popular adult Halloween costumes, while Bilbo is a popular children’s costume, complete with large, furry feet (that might not be so quiet). Numerous video games and a large selection of board games about these movies grace the shelves of many retail stores. Perhaps the biggest, and most fun, result of the movies is the wide array of collectable items and life-size toys. Being able to crack Indiana Jones’s whip or let your enemies feel the sting of your Sting is something that helps bring the movies and stories to life, eliciting some excitement from our own inner adventurers. Though Captain Jack doesn’t have a whip or an iconic sword with a name, he did help to make male eyeliner less uncool for sure.
“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” – Bilbo Baggins
We couldn’t have said it any better than Bilbo.
These adventure stories were not created with the sole purpose of becoming cultural icons, nor were their film counterparts. Captain Jack Sparrow has a lofty perception of himself, but certainly neither he, nor the clever Dr. Jones, and definitely not the humble Mr. Baggins, ever believed they would mean so much to so many people.
These movies have instilled the desire to explore and hunt for the treasures in our own life. We fantasize about our own roads to success while envisioning ourselves exploring alongside these heroes. Who doesn’t want to search for the Holy Grail with Dr. Jones, or board the Black Pearl with Captain Jack, or relax and take a few thoughtful puffs from the hospitable hobbit’s pipe in the Shire after a long adventure to the Lonely Mountain?
While we may not actually want to enter the worlds of these movies ourselves, we do want to see them and live the big hopes, dreams, and successes of these characters vicariously through their likeness on the screen, and we’re collectively waiting for the next epic to take us on an exciting ride. These movies are popular because they inspire people of all ages to get in touch with their inner adventurers, even if it’s just for the length of the movie.
This article was published on Thursday 07 July, 2016.