Indiana Jones Uncovers Multiplex Treasure But No Records

There was no question that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull would be the one to beat at the box office over this Memorial Day weekend. The only question for 2008's kickoff to the summer movie season was, What records would the long-awaited Indy sequel break?

I wasn't the only one predicting that records would be laid to waste and that we'd see numbers like nothing we'd ever seen before. Turns out: not so much. Crystal Skull took in $126 million for the four-day weekend (Friday through the holiday Monday), making it only the second biggest Memorial Day opening ever, not even close to last year's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (which earned more than $139 million) and just ahead of 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand (which earned almost $123 million).

But Indy opened on Thursday, right? Which means it had a five-day opening "weekend." Indy's five-day number is $151 million... a distant No. 5 for all-time five-day openings, far behind the leader, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, which earned almost $173 million when it opened two Thursdays before Memorial Day in 2005. Indy looks slightly better when you look at all-time best Thursday grosses, where it ranks No. 4, but it's so far back in the pack for best opening-day grosses that it's not even worth mentioning.

None of which is to suggest that Crystal Skull didn't have a fantastic opening weekend. And as soon as Hollywood gets off its kick of looking at opening-weekend numbers to the exclusion of all else, we will too.

The rest of the movie slate suffered in Indy's wake. No. 2 for weekend was The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, earning $28.6 million for the four-day. Its total gross so far is just over $96 million -- it's gonna have a tough time earning back its reported budget of $200 million. Iron Man -- at No. 3 with $25.6 million for the four-day -- is still looking good, though, dropping less than 20 percent from the week before, which is extraordinary. It passed $250 million this weekend, and is already assured of being one of the biggest hits of 2008. The No. 4 film, What Happens in Vegas, took in $11.1 million for the four-day, which also represents a drop of less than 20 percent. It passed $50 million this weekend, and since it cost only $35 million to make, it's an unqualified hit, too, if on a much smaller scale. At No. 5, Speed Racer -- $5.2 million for the four-day -- continues to flop. It's earned only $37 million in three weeks, and cost $120 million to make. Heads are gonna roll over this one.

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MaryAnn Johanson (email me)

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