Indiana Jones earns $25 Million on Thursday

Thursday Numbers Analysis

By David Mumpower

May 23, 2008

Harrison Ford attempts to torpedo unreasonable expectations.

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull got off to a solid albeit unspectacular start. Its reported box office of $25,041,072 includes Wednesday midnight sneaks, meaning that the movie is probably in the $23 million range for Thursday proper. Even if we do not isolate the number, it's barely half of what its most direct comparison film, Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, earned on its first Thursday. That title brought in $50.0 million on its first Thursday before accumulating $108.4 million over its opening weekend. Given that this title was also a late May/Thursday debut for its release, there is similarity between the two.

The key difference, the one that makes this such a tricky proposition, is that Episode III came out the week before Memorial Day. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has come out the weekend of Memorial Day. I am certain you are wondering to yourself why I consider this a major factor. The answer is that the onus of the consumer changes in this regard. With Revenge of the Sith followed by a three-day weekend, there is more pressure on the consumer in terms of time restraint. This would be the case even if there were not the powerful drive by diehard fans of that franchise to see how its six stories are tied together in the end. Its behavior is simply different from what I would expect for Crystal Skull.

The Indiana Jones film is still facing the prospect of a news cycle stating a disappointing result, however. I am of the opinion that this title will play out like a family film over the next four days, giving it a lot of carryover appeal. That situation may be complicated if the web reports we read over the next few hours indicate that Crystal Skull is a box office disappointment. It is of course far, far too early to make such a determination as BOP has stressed on countless occasions that drawing conclusions about a four or five day performance from a single day of results is simply lousy logical thinking. That will not stop some folks from doing just this, however, meaning Crystal Skull may be hurt a bit by its own iconic status. People will want to report something and the first day result is not a huge positive.


What should happen next is that the film will hold up brilliantly today. As I mentioned earlier, it did night and day worse than Episode III on its first Thursday. The catch is that Revenge of the Sith fell off the table in its second day, plummeting a stiff 33% to $33.5 million. Paramount's hope and my expectation is that Crystal Skull demonstrates inverse behavior, climbing from its $25 million day one result. I know you have to be wondering to yourself how I see this as possible when the movie couldn't even manage $25 million in a single day of showings, needing midnight sneaks to prop it up. That's a completely valid concern and I want to be totally honest with you here that I am simply anticipating a future result. There is only limited historical basis for this thought process, but sometimes I believe that a new model unfolds before our very eyes. I am of the opinion that Crystal Skull could be such a performer.

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