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'Indiana Jones' Could Possibly Deliver the All-Time Best Five-Day Opening

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May 19, 2008 | 5:51am EDT

Although I did not see Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at the swanky Cannes Film Festival, rubbing elbows with Harrison Ford, Steven SpielbergGeorge Lucas and assembled elite film critics from around the world, I was at the humble confines of the Paramount Theatre on the studio lot on Melrose in Hollywood at the Sunday 10:00 am press screening. I am happy to report that, despite early negative reactions from some disgruntled, unprofessional exhibition execs who anonymously posted scathing pans, it is a worthy successor to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Studio execs will often use expressions like, “This is a real movie,” and “We’ve got the goods.” That’s the case here for Paramount with this long-awaited, much buzzed about third sequel to Raiders, featuring the iconic Indiana Jones character. Lucasfilm and Steven Spielberg have delivered a completely unpretentious, entirely enjoyable ‘popcorn movie,’ and it will hit the mark for both Baby Boomers, who grew up on Indy, and a new generation of moviegoers.

From a box office perspective, the disastrous opening for Speed Racer and the softer-than-expected start for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian has created a perfect release date for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull . As of Sunday, after seeing the film and checking the very latest industry tracking, I think that the number to look for is $173M.

Here is how Kingdom of the Crystal Skull  can get there for the Thursday-thru-Monday period: $45M Thursday, which will include Wednesday after midnight screenings, $34M Friday, $36M Saturday, $34M Sunday and $24M on Memorial Day. That is a tall order, but very possible. That would make it the All-Time second-best, four-day Memorial Day weekend opening, trailing only Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. More importantly, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull would become the All-Time Best Five-Day opening surpassing Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith’s five-day record of $172.8M.

This will be a particularly exciting Memorial Day weekend for Paramount. The studio will almost certainly have the No. 1 and No. 3 movies for the period with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull  scoring huge and Iron Man, the Marvel box office juggernaut, likely grabbing at least $20M over the four-days. The studio will likely account for as much as 70 percent of all of the box office generated by the Top 10 films over the holiday.

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