"Indiana Jones" cracks whip at box office opening

Fri May 23, 2008 10:21pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Harrison Ford cracked the box-office whip as his latest "Indiana Jones" movie grossed a hefty $25 million from its first day in North American theaters, independent industry analysts reported on Friday.

That tally ranks as the fourth highest-grossing Thursday debut on record and bodes well for a movie industry looking to "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" to help shake the movie business out an early summer slump.

But analysts were divided over whether the highly anticipated adventure flick from Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures is on track to overtake last year's "Pirates of the Caribbean" film as the biggest opening on a U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend.

"Crystal Skull," directed by Steven Spielberg, is the fourth movie in the beloved and lucrative movie franchise that began in 1981 with "Raiders of the Lost Ark," and is the first to hit the big screen in 19 years.

The three previous "Indy" movies have collectively grossed more than $1.2 billion in ticket sales worldwide.

In the latest film, Ford, 65, reprises his title role as the bullwhip-cracking archeologist who hates snakes, and is reunited with actress Karen Allen, his co-star from the first adventure. Set during the 1950s Cold War era, the story pits him against an evil KGB agent played by Cate Blanchett in a race to find a skull endowed with mystic powers.

Box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers, said the film's opening Thursday performance was robust enough without being so strong as to diminish its weekend audience.

If its Friday-through-Monday box office tally crosses the $140 million mark, the film would exceed last year's Walt Disney Co's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" as the biggest North American opening yet for the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Harrison Ford is interviewed as he arrives for a screening of the film "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" by U.S. director Steven Spielberg in New York May 20, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>