WEEKEND TRACKING: Indy Mania! 9,500 Screens! Midnight Sellouts! Tracking in the Stratosphere! Spielberg, Lucas and Ford Likely Headed to the All-Time Number One 5-Day Record with $177M-$187M Possible!
by Steve Mason
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount) is about to begin a monumental Memorial Day weekend run. The film will open at 12:01 a.m. at thousands of locations across America. Officially, Paramount has secured 4,260 playdates for the Lucasfilm production, and the screen count will be something just over 9,500. The generally well-reviewed sequel will perform extraordinarily well in after-midnight shows. As of 8:00 p.m. (Pacific), high-grossing Arclight Theatres in Hollywood has nine sold-out shows, starting at 12:01 a.m., 12:15 a.m., 12:16 a.m., 12:17 a.m., 12:30 a.m., 12:31 a.m., 12:32 a.m., 12:45 a.m. and 12:46 a.m. That is completely unprecedented.
Paramount's Transformers opened at 8 p.m. on a Monday night last summer, and it scored an amazing $8.8 million. It is quite possible that the first Indiana Jones movie in 19 years could deliver $3 million-$4 million in after-midnight business (which will be added to its opening day take). Industry tracking for IJ4 is in the stratosphere. There are people who believe that $190 million is possible for the five-day Thursday-thru-Monday period. That strikes me as high, but I am raising my four-day and five-day predictions.
Last year, the Top 10 movies generated $244 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. That included $139.8 million for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, $67 million for Shrek the Third and $18.1 million for Spider-Man 3. If we work backwards, then I expect The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Disney) to add an estimated $38 million over the upcoming four-day and Iron Man (Paramount) should be good for another $27 million or so. With those estimates plugged into the No. 2 thru No. 10 spots over the long weekend, that should account for about $99 million. If overall business is flat year-over-year, that means there's a $145 million piece of the pie left for Indy.
The bottom line is that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have created a four-quadrant juggernaut. There is a nostalgia factor here with parents looking forward to introducing kids to Harrison Ford's iconic character. The PG-13 rating makes Kingdom of the Crystal Skull very family friendly. And, Shia LeBeouf is a hit with Under 25s, riding the success of both Disturbia and Transformers. I now believe that IJ4 has a real shot at $46 million-$48 million for opening day. That will take some of the "steam" out of the weekend, but it is very possible that Indy and the Gang will grab something in the $35 million-$37 million range on Friday, get a family audience surge to $37 million-$39 million on Saturday, dip back to the $35 million-$37 million range on Sunday, and wrap up the holiday weekend with $24 million-$26 million on Memorial Day (Monday).
For the actual Friday-thru-Monday Memorial Day frame, I am calling for $131 million-$139 million. Because of the Thursday opening, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will likely fall short of the All-Time Memorial Day weekend record of $139.8 million set by Pirates of the Caribbean last year. The five-day number, however, will be in the $177 million-$187 million range, making it the biggest five-day opening in movie history. That record is currently held by George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith at $172.8 million, so the title of five-day champ will stay in the Lucasfilm family.
Another interesting wrinkle to the weekend is that Paramount could account for as much as 70 percent of the total box office this long weekend. It is a history-making year for the Melrose Avenue gang with Kung Fu Panda, Mike Myers's The Love Guru (which, by the way, got a gigantic plug during the American Idol season finale, with star Myers present and in character) and the much buzzed-about August release Tropic Thunder still due this Summer.
FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR FOUR-DAY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount) — $135 million ($180 million for Thursday-thru-Monday)
2. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Disney) — $38 million
3. Iron Man (Paramount) — $27 million
4. What Happens in Vegas (20th Century Fox) — $12.75 million
5. Speed Racer (Warner Bros.) — $7.75 million
6. Made of Honor (Sony) — $4.45 million
7. Baby Mama (Universal) — $4.25 million
8. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) — $2.5 million
9. Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo (Warner Bros.) — $1.5 million
10. The Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate) — $700,000