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B.O. Weekend Preview: 'Indiana Jones' Likely to Break Records

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May 22, 2008 | 5:20am EDT

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Indy-Mania: 9,500+ screens! Midnight sell-outs! Tracking in the stratosphere! Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull--Steven SpielbergGeorge Lucas and Harrison Ford's fourth installment--is likely headed to the all-time number one five-day record with $177M-$187M possible.

Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount) is about to begin a monumental Memorial Day weekend run. The film will open at 12:01am 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 pm, high-grossing Arclight Theatres in Hollywood has nine sold-out shows, starting at 12:01a, 12:15a, 12:16a, 12:17a, 12:30a, 12:31a, 12:32a, 12:45a and 12:46a. That is completely unprecedented.

Paramount’s Transformers opened at 8:00 pm on a Monday night last summer, and it scored an amazing $8.8M. It is quite possible that the first Indiana Jones movie in 19 years could deliver $3M-$4M in after midnight business (which will be added to its opening day take).

Industry tracking for Indiana Jones is in the stratosphere. There are people who believe that $190M is possible for the five-day Thursday-thru-Monday. That strikes me as high, but I am raising my four-day and five-day predictions.

Last year, the Top 10 movies generated $244M over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. That included $139.8M for Pirates 3, $67M for Shrek 3 and $18.1M for Spider-Man 3. If we work backwards, I expect The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Disney) to add an estimated $38M over the upcoming four-day and Iron Man (Paramount) should be good for another $27M or so. With those estimates plugged into the No. 2 thru No. 10 spots over the long weekend, that should account for about $99M. If overall business is flat year-over-year, that is a $145M 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 Indiana Jones very family friendly. And, Shia LaBeouf is a hit with under 25’s, riding the success of both Disturbia and Transformers.

I now believe that Indiana Jones has a real shot at $46M-$48M for opening day. That will take some of the ‘steam’ out of the weekend, but it is very possible that Indiana Jones will grab something in the $35M-$37M range on Friday, get a family audience surge to $37M-$39M on Saturday, dip back to the $35M-$37M range on Sunday, and wrap up the holiday weekend with $24M-$26M on Memorial Day Monday.

For the actual Friday-thru-Monday Memorial Day frame, I am calling for $131M-$139M. Because of the Thursday opening, Indiana Jones will likely fall short of the all-time Memorial Day weekend record of $139.8M set by Pirates 3 last year. The five-day, however, will be in the $177M-$187M range, making it the biggest five-day opening in movie history. That record is currently held by George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith at $172.8M, 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 gang with Kung Fu Panda, Mike Myers’ The Love Guru and the much buzzed-about August release Tropic Thunder still due this summer.

FINAL PREDICTIONS FOR FOUR-DAY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND

1. Indiana Jonesthe Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Paramount) - $135M ($180M for Thursday-thru-Monday)

2. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Disney) - $38M

3. Iron Man (Paramount) - $27M

4. What Happens in Vegas (Fox) - $12.75M

5. Speed Racer (Warner Bros) - $7.75M

6. Made of Honor (Sony) - $4.45M

7. Baby Mama (Universal) - $4.25M

8. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) - $2.5M

9. Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (Warner Bros) - $1.5M

10. The Forbidden Kingdom (Lionsgate) - $700,000

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