INDY MEMORIALIZED! Fourquel Reels In $151M Holiday Wkd, $311M Global; But Fans Fume Spielberg-Lucas Phoned It In

MONDAY AM: It’s officially a mega-hit for adventurer Indiana Jones after a 19-year hiatus. The 10th biggest Friday-through-Sunday in the U.S. of all time, the 5th biggest international opening of all time, Steven Spielberg’s biggest opener (passing War Of The Worlds), and George Lucas’s second best opener behind Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith. This tentpole kept going strong all weekend despite the very mixed morning-after watercooler talk about whether the actioner was even worth watching — leading many Indy faithful to complain that Spielberg and Lucas just phoned it in. (But my sources maintain the filmmaking duo thought they’d made a good pic. Go figure.) The North American box office gross on Paramount’s Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull will be $151M for the 5-day Memorial Weekend (Thursday’s $25M, Friday’s $31M, Saturday’s $37M, and Sunday’s $33M as well as Monday’s expected $25M), $26M for the 4-day holiday, and $101M for FSS.

Internationally, Paramount’s Indy 4 is also piling up the box office gross. The foreign estimate through Monday is expected to be $160 million — shattering the record for Paramount’s best overseas opening previously held by the opening of Spielberg’s War Of The Worlds ($102M). So, with North America’s $151M total take through Monday, that’s a $311M worldwide haul.

In second place for the 3-day weekend was Disney/Walden’s successful sequel The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian whose gross fell 58% from a week ago to a big $23M for FSS from 3,929 venues and $28.6M for the 4-day holiday for a new cume of $96.6M. (See below for the Top 10 chart.) It’s now taken in $49.3M overseas from 13 territories which represents an 11% increase over Narnia 1. The 3rd spot was another Paramount actioner, Marvel’s Iron Man, with $20.1M for FSS from 3,915 runs and $25.6M for the 4-day holiday for a giant new cume of $257.8M.

Indy‘s PG-13 fourquel opened at 12:01 AM Thursday into 4,260 theaters in North America and also day and date in 61 foreign territories (except Japan). Paramount saw some weakness in the tracking among teens. But that was made up for by nostalgia among adults: the problem is that those older moviegoers generally wait until the 2nd or 3rd weekend to screen a flick. And then there was the hot button issue of the film’s story quality, or lack there-of. In the end, none of these concerns mattered: Indy 4 kept piling up the box office dollars.

Here are the records Indy 4 couldn’t beat:  The best 5-day opening ever was the humongous $172.8M recorded by 2005’s Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith. That pic also scored the best Thursday take of $50M; then again that pic finished out the prequel trilogy. The best Memorial Day Weekend was posted last summer by Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End which also completed a trilogy; its 4 1/2-day opening posted $153.0M and its 5 1/2-day figure was $160.8M. Still another number to consider is what Spider-Man 3 did during its first 5 consecutive non-holiday days last May: $169.4M. Globally, the record number floating around is a high-wire act of $400+M for summer 2007, when both Spider-Man 3 and Pirates 3 sparred over which set the worldwide debut total. But Pirates 3 opened day and date in over 100+ foreign territories.)

Informed guesstimates from my box office gurus before the film opened ranged from a North American low of $142 million to a high of $175 million. I thought the answer lay somewhere inbetween — around $160M. Then again, that’s not taking into account how movie theaters are raising ticket prices by a dollar or two this summer because popcorn is more expensive. (According to news reports, next year’s corn stocks are expected to plunge to a 13-year low, corn-futures contracts have soared to an all-time high, and the sudden demand for ethanol will claim 40% of next year’s corn crop. Even the paper for the popcorn tubs is more expensive. So the profit margins at theaters which rely on concession sales for as much as 45% of their revenue are desperate to make up the difference.) Also, major theaters in cities are starting to charge the same for children as adults. The result is that Indy 4‘s grosses fattened while filmgoers’ finances thinned. No wonder the public feels increasingly ripped off at the cineplex.

Here’s the Top 10 chart as of Sunday AM:

1. Indiana Jones 4 (Paramount) — 3-Day Wkd: $101M, 4-day holiday $126M, Cume: $151.1M
2. Chronicles of Narnia 2 (Disney) — 3-Day Wkd: $23M, 4-day holiday $28.6M, Cume: $96.6M
3. Iron Man (Paramount) — 3-Day Wkd: $20M, 4-day holiday $25.6M, Cume: $257.8M
4. What Happens In Vegas (Fox) — 3-Day Wkd: $9M, 4-day holiday $11.1M, Cume: $56.3M
5. Speed Racer (Warner Bros) — 3-Day Wkd: $3.9M, 4-day holiday $5.2M, Cume: $37.4M
6. Baby Mama (Universal) — 3-Day Wkd: $3.3M, 4-day holiday $4.2M, Cume: $53M
7. Made Of Honor (Sony) — 3-Day Wkd: $3.4M, 4-day holiday $4.2M, Cume: $39.8M
8. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) — 3-Day Wkd: $1.6M, 4-day holiday $2.1M, Cume: $58.7M
9. Harold and Kumar 2 (Warner Bros) — 3-Day Wkd: $915K, 4-day holiday $1.2M, Cume: $36.1M
10. The Visitor (Overture) — 3-Day Wkd: $781K, 4-day holiday $917K, Cume: $4.5M

(Photo of Spanish tourists exiting an Indy 4 screening in Los Angeles by Jim Stevenson.)

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