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Weekend Wrap-Up

Indiana Jones Rescues May Box Office

By John Hamann

May 25, 2008

Hold on. Does anyone see any snakes?

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We all knew Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was going to be big at the box office. The question was how big. Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, bringing back Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, just like it was 1981 all over again. It's been almost 20 years since Indiana Jones was last onscreen, and the cost of making one of these pictures has risen from $50 million to $125 million. Would the weekend box office see a similar increase? Would box office records fall in the midst of one of the world's favorite action heroes? You know the drill: Read on to find out.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull hit screens on Thursday, ushering in a sure to be busy weekend at the nation's movie theaters. As BOP's David Mumpower reported on Friday, the Thursday figure came in at a very strong $25 million, as it beat the struggling Prince Caspian by a full $23 million. The Friday gross came in at a solid, but nowhere near as spectacular $31 million, only a 20% increase over opening day. The Friday figure was the 15th biggest Friday of all time, and the fourth biggest Friday for a film opening on a Thursday. It finished behind only Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End's first Friday of $42.9 million, Revenge of the Sith's Friday gross of $33.5 million, and Matrix Reloaded's first Friday take of $31.3 million. Simply put, Indiana Jones was off to a very solid start, but it didn't look to be breaking any of the big records.

The weekend performance for the Crystal Skull was going to come down to how it played on Saturday. At World's End fell 12% on Saturday compared to Friday, pulling in $37.7 million over the 2007 Memorial Day Weekend. Indiana Jones managed to do the opposite, significantly increasing its take from Friday-to-Saturday, as it pulled in a gross of $38.7 million on its third day, an increase of 25%. Sunday was estimated at $31.4 million, and thus the weekend estimate is $101 million. This tells us that The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull performed more like a family film than a sequel, and bodes well for the weekends to come. It also becomes the 11th film to open to $100 million or more.




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With this information, we know that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull finished its first four days with $126 million. ERC is estimating $151 million from its release through Memorial Day. BOP will provide an updated Memorial Day gross tomorrow, which may paint an even rosier picture.

Is this a record setter? It's tough to accomplish such feats on Memorial Day weekend because it is one of the biggest movie going weekends of the year. Spider-Man 3's three-day gross of $151 million was never in jeopardy; however, the three-day Memorial Day Weekend record of $128 million (including Thursday previews) certainly was. That was set by the oft-mentioned Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End over Memorial Day last year. It must be said that At World's End was only 'previewed' on Thursday, and was released to 'only' 3,100 venues, when it made $13.2 million.

What makes At World's End a good comparison film is that not only did it also open over a Memorial Day weekend, it basically tied Indiana Jones over Thursday and Friday. As I mentioned above, At World's End earned $42.9 million on its first Friday, giving it a $56.1 million for its first two days, which is almost exactly what Crystal Skull achieved. At World's End earned $153 million from its Thursday evening release through Memorial Day, meaning Crystal Skull is estimated to have effectively matched it with $151 million. Given that At World's End fell 12% on Saturday to $37.7 million while Indiana Jones spiked 25% with a superior total of $38.9 million, there is reason to believe Indy's estimate is too conservative and actuals will reveal an even better performance, meaning it may yet pass At World's End.


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