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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The Harrison Ford starrer opened at 4,260 venues for Paramount, making it the third biggest release of all time in exhibitions behind At World's End (4,362) and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (4,285 venues). The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ended the weekend with a Friday-to-Sunday venue average of $23,709. The weekend multiplier for the three-day, Friday-to-Sunday gross was 3.27, which is a sensational figure when considering that this film made $25 million on Thursday night. This could have/should have lowered its weekend multiplier. Before you point out that its internal multiplier is inflated by the holiday, keep in mind that Paramount is only estimating $31.4 million on Sunday, a number that is probably low by several million. The long weekend gross for Indiana Jones may not be a record breaker for Paramount, but it does put Indy squarely on the path toward $300 million, a figure it should have no problem surpassing.

Paramount did a smash up job rolling out Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Marketing was perfect with the peak coming at the right time, right around when the film unspooled at Cannes to positive results. The Cannes premiere put Indy into the mainstream news and created a big buzz and big excitement. They followed that with fair reviews - 79% fresh from all reviews combined, but only 63% fresh from "the nation's top critics". Some may accuse Indiana Jones of stepping into all-too-familiar territory, but the gross this weekend says that young and old came out for this one in a big way, and will for many weeks to come.


For Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull delivers a much needed career boost. Not seen since the ineffective 2006 release Firewall, Ford ends a three-film skid that may have been career ending. After What Lies Beneath opened to $30 million in 2002, Ford took on three misses. The first, 2002's K-19: The Widowmaker opened to only $12.8 million. In K-19, Ford was panned loudly for his brutal Russian accent and the film finished with $35.2 million against a production budget of $100 million. He then chose comedy in the form of Hollywood Homicide, which cost $75 million to make, opened to $11 million and finished with $30 million. Finally in 2006, Firewall hit screens and opened in fourth place, earning $13.6 million. It finished with a slightly better $48.8 million. Those three films combined barely match the production budget of K-19 on its own, and this was from the man who brought us 11 films that earned over $100 million each at a time when $100 million films were few and far between. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull puts Ford back on top in a very big way.

Finishing way back in second this weekend is The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, which is quickly turning into a disaster. Over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of the long weekend, Prince Caspian earned $23 million, and was off a large 58% despite the holiday inflation. Usually, films that open the weekend prior to Memorial Day get the long weekend ‘bounce', meaning that percentage drops are lower due to the holiday in the second frame. Films basically enjoy two Saturdays over weekends with a holiday Monday. Caspian has now earned $91.1 million, theoretically a solid figure on its own; however, the first film in the series, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe had a ten-day gross of $113.2 million, and wasn't padded by a long weekend. The key difference between the two is that as a December release, Wardrobe earned another $40 million in its next seven days. It is no longer certain Caspian will earn $40 million in the rest of its domestic release. That total, $150 million, would represent only half of Wardrobe's $291.7 million domestic total. And this is despite the fact that Prince Caspian had a much larger budget of $200 million.

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