Indy has Spidey in its sights at box office

Tue May 20, 2008 4:33am EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Expectations management goes out the window when a picture is considered a candidate for one of the biggest openings of all time.

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" opens across North America at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, and industry observers already are talking about a five-day haul north of $150 million for the U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend.

That would put "Skull" on course to surpass the "Spider-Man 3" opening of $151.1 million in May 2007 -- with a big asterisk, given that Spidey reached that level in three days.

"Skull" represents the iconic franchise's first new installment in 19 years. Its three predecessors posted domestic totals running from $209.6 million for franchise fountainhead "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in 1981 to $197.2 million for the second sequel, 1989's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," whose outsized foreign grosses helped "Crusade" outgross "Raiders" on a worldwide basis. The first sequel, 1984's "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," fell short of both other Indy flicks both domestically and internationally.

As is the norm with big "tentpole" releases these days, "Skull" will open roughly simultaneously in 61 foreign markets. And though early reviews have been mixed, the frenzy among even the jaded press contingent at Cannes for the film's world premiere Sunday makes it clear that word-of-mouth will be more vital to its theatrical performance than critical reaction.

Suffice it to say, distributor Paramount Pictures has a lot of positive energy going for it as "Skull" looks to write itself into box office record books.

New champ "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" earned $55.03 million domestically last weekend, according to final data issued Monday, and should do at least half that much through Monday. But the one-time notion that "Prince Caspian" would develop into a sequel phenomenon quickly faded. Industry observers had expected an opening in the $80 million range.

After two weekends at No. 1, "Iron Man" still played strongly in its third weekend, grossing $31.84 million to push its domestic total to $223.12 million.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

<p>Cast members Harrison Ford (L) and Cate Blanchett attend a news conference for the film "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" by Steven Spielberg at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 18, 2008. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier</p>