of the Lost Ark came out on June 12, 1981 in 1708 theaters
across the United States and soon became the most profitable
film and the cinematic event of the year.
The film opens with a great 15-minute
sequence filled with so much action that the audience
could leave the theater in these first minutes totally
satisfied. Spielberg's intention was to keep close to
the spirit of the old serials, which always began with
a brisk reprise of the previous week's cliffhanger.
"It's not part of Raiders at all. It belongs to the
film that comes before it - Raiders of the Lost Fertility
Idol, if you like", was Spielberg's aspect. On the other
hand Spielberg was fulfilling an old desire. To make
a James Bond film. In all the James Bond films their
opening sequence had nothing to do with the movie's
real plot. So, in Raiders Spielberg uses this style
of storytelling to introduce the character of Indiana
Raiders of the Lost Ark was a hit not
only in the United States but all over the world making
Ford begin a tour around Europe to promote it. He attended
the London opening in July and several festivals. In
Britain in less than two weeks into its initial run
Raiders earned nearly $5 million and became the number
one slot in bookings outpacing England's "national"
hero James Bond's For Your Eyes Only. In Paris, 500
people were turned away when Raiders opened to a full
house on the Champs Elysees. French spurred by a chorus
of rave reviews from critics at the Deauville film festival,
Raiders drew fully 21% of all filmgoers in the French
capital on its opening day. In Italy a month before
the scheduled opening day Raiders distributor ordered
a record number of prints to satisfy a demand that is
soaring on word-of-mouth alone.
At the Venice film festival, the normally
blasé audience at a Raiders screening cheered wildly
for the good guys and hissed the bud guys just like
kids used to do when they went to the movies years ago.
Audiences around the world responded to
Harrison Ford's heroisms transforming him into a real
superstar. His performance as Indiana Jones marvelously,
combines elements of Errol Flynn, Cary Grand and Clark
Gable. From the first moment of casting for Raiders
Spielberg wanted someone like Harrison Ford. Someone
who could be villainous and romantic at the same time.
Derek Taylor wrote for Ford's performance, "Harrison
was so crucial to the film and so rarely off screen
that had he been unpleasant, things could have been
Of course credits should be given to the
rest of the cast, too. Especially, to Karen Allen, who
was the only woman in the film. Allen with her intense
presence and her aggressive sexuality managed to impose
her role as equal among the other male characters creating
a 80s female profile although it was referring in the
The success of Raiders grew even more
when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science
nominated it for eleven Academy Awards, including Best
Picture and Best Director, only to win five of them.
Raiders of the Lost Ark earned $367 million
worldwide and became the first video to sell a million.
Paramount made $49 million in film rentals,
recovering its $22 million production investment in
the process. Spielberg made in excess of $22 million,
more than he had earned from all his previous hit movies
combined. Lucasfilm made $21 million from Raiders and
Lucas personally earned only $2,5 million as producer.
The other profit participants, including actors and
crew members, divided more than $7 million in profit
percentages. Lucasfilm now gets 50% of everything Raiders
earns after Spielberg's share is deducted. Paramount
has maintained the right to distribute Raiders forever.