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Indiana Jones and the Opening Long Weekend

May 22nd, 2008

For the first time in nearly two decades, there is an Indiana Jones movie opening in theaters. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is arguably the most anticipated new release of the year and should crush the competition at the box office. In fact, there are more than a few people who expect records will the broken this weekend. With expectations this high, it might be almost impossible for the film to match them.

Everyone expects Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to finish in first place over the weekend, but there are still some troubling signs. Or at least signs that could go either way. For instance, the previous two weeks had films open below expectations, (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and Speed Racer). This does leave the competition much weaker than most were anticipating. However, it could also mean the market is soft overall, which would be a very bad sign for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Likewise, its reviews are strong...ish. I'm not going to argue that 79% positive is bad, far from it. A score like that would normally be a big selling point, but it does pale in comparison to Raiders of the Lost Ark's score of 95% positive and is the weakest in the franchise so far. On a more unambiguously positive note, the film is opening on Memorial Day long weekend, which is the best weekend of the year for total box office. And it is opening with no competition from other wide releases. Look for an opening day box office of roughly $40 million, perhaps a little higher, a three-day weekend of close to $100 million, and a 5-day total of $165 million. None of those are records, but it is still a fantastic start and does leave a fifth film a possibility. Perhaps even more if a certain sidekick can take over.

After opening weaker than expected, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian will try not to collapse in the face of stiffer competition this weekend. With its family friendly nature, it should benefit more from the long weekend than the rest of the saturation level releases and this should help it avoid a massive decline. It might suffer a decline of 50% over the three-day weekend, but that would still give it about $35 million over four, which would be enough to push the film's running tally to $100 million. Best case scenario has it earning closer to $50 million over four days, which would leave $200 million still within the realm of possibilities. The lower end is more likely and just under $40 million from Friday to Monday is the most likely scenario.

Iron Man will try to hold on to its number one ranking on the yearly box office chart for as long as possible, which will be very hard with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull debuting tonight. It does have some advantages, including its incredible reviews, but even so a 4-day weekend total of $25 million is probably the best it can hope for. If it can get there, then $300 million is still a possibility. On the other hand, $22 million, which is more likely, would leave it on track to fall short.

No other film will be a major player this weekend, with What Happens in Vegas... tracking for a weekend total of just over $10 million while Speed Racer should pull in about half of that. The former film has become a solid midlevel hit and while it is far from a monster success, it should make the studio happy. On the other hand, Speed Racer did so poorly that it might be hard for the Wachowski Brothers to get the financing for their next movie.


Filed under: Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, What Happens in Vegas..., Speed Racer