Weekend Box Office (May 23 - 26, 2008)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Harrison Ford scored his first number one opening in eight years with the much-hyped adventure sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull which dominated moviegoing over the Memorial Day holiday weekend grossing more than all other films in the marketplace combined. But despite the explosive start for the long-awaited return of Indy, the rest of the box office slumped with few strong performances from supporting players. Overall it was the slowest Memorial Day weekend in five years.

19 years after the last installment, the Indiana Jones franchise proved that it was still relevant in today's entertainment world as Crystal Skull opened to a stunning $126.9M over the four-day Friday-to-Monday holiday period, according to final studio figures. The Friday-to-Sunday portion accounted for $100.1M and since the Paramount release's Thursday launch the cume has soared to $152M in five days. Playing in 4,260 locations, the PG-13 pic averaged a sensational $23,507 over three days and $29,793 over four days.

The Friday-to-Sunday figure ranks as the tenth highest debut in box office history while the cume is the sixth best five-day start ever. The only other films to gross more in their first five days of release were Star Wars Episode III ($172.8M, Thu-Mon), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($169.5M, Fri-Tue), Spider-Man 3 ($169.4M, Fri-Tue), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ($153M, Thu previews-Mon), and Spider-Man 2 ($152.4M, Wed-Sun). Not bad company. The $185M-budgeted Kingdom also enjoyed the second largest Memorial Day weekend opening ever after last year's At World's End which looted $139.8M over its official Friday-to-Monday period.

Crystal Skull marked the reunion of Ford with director Steven Spielberg and executive producer George Lucas while newcomers like Shia LaBeouf and Cate Blanchett joined the cast for this fourth escapade. Reviews were mixed but generally positive. The five-day opening began with $25M on Thursday. Friday saw a 22% increase to $30.6M, Saturday jumped another 20% to $36.5M, Sunday dipped by 10% to $33M, and Monday declined 19% to $26.8M.

The new Indiana Jones adventure also attacked multiplexes around the world and grossed a stellar $160M internationally since its first launches on Wednesday. Indy ranked number one in all 61 territories it opened in and brought its global cume to $311M in less than one week of play.

Last week's top film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian tumbled in its second weekend of release to $29.8M over four days as the Friday-to-Sunday portion collapsed by a horrific 58%. It was the worst gross in nine years for the second place film over Memorial Day weekend. In 1999, Notting Hill claimed that spot with $27.7M over four days behind chart-topper Star Wars Episode I. However, that amount would be about $38M at today's prices so the new Narnia still sold fewer tickets.

Caspian boosted its 11-day total to $97.9M and looks as if it will top out at $140-150M from North America or about half of the $291.7M that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe grossed. This is a major stumble for Disney which has been developing Narnia as a long-term franchise meant to keep revenue flowing in for several years to come.

The year's top-grossing smash Iron Man finished its fourth weekend in third with a strong $26.1M over four days and watched its cume skyrocket to $258.3M. The three-day portion dropped by just 37%. Paramount and Marvel continued to benefit from solid word-of-mouth as the super hero flick raced up to number 40 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters surpassing I Am Legend's $256.4M. With both Iron Man and Indiana Jones rocking the holiday box office, Paramount dominated the multiplexes accounting for a whopping 72% of the entire top ten. The Robert Downey Jr. sensation is a virtual lock to join the $300M club now.

Moviegoers looking for a comedy over the long weekend found it in the Cameron Diaz-Ashton Kutcher pic What Happens in Vegas which took in $11.4M over four days. Meanwhile Speed Racer continued to crash and burn falling to $5.3M. Each film was in its third weekend. Totals stand at a robust $56.6M for the Fox hit and a miserable $37.5M for the pricey Warner Bros. entry.

Both Speed Racer and Prince Caspian were expected to add muscular numbers to the May box office but moviegoers have not been too impressed. The weaker-than-expected openings and the steep declines have led to a lack of depth in the marketplace as the Memorial Day frame usually sees strong contributions from a number of different films.

Laughing up $4.2M was the romantic comedy Made of Honor raising Sony's cume to $39.9M. Universal's pregnancy comedy Baby Mama held up well again grossing $4.2M in four days boosting the overall take to $53M.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall was still remembered by audiences in its sixth frame taking in $2.3M for a $58.8M total for Universal. New Line's Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay followed with $1.2M in its fifth outing for a $36.2M sum. Rounding out the top ten was the indie hit The Visitor with $940,037 lifting the cume to $4.6M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $212.3M over four days which was down 13% from last year when Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End opened in the top spot with $139.8M; and down 8% from 2006 when X-Men: The Last Stand debuted at number one with $102.8M.

Compared to projections, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opened below my five-day forecast of $165M.

For a NEW review of Crystal Skull plus a NEW DVD review of Indiana Jones - The Adventure Collection visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Sex and the City and The Strangers both debut.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title May 23 - 26 May 16 - 18 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom... $ 126,917,373 4,260 1 $ 29,793 $ 151,958,445 Paramount
2 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian 29,810,163 55,034,805 -45.8 3,929 2 7,587 97,855,173 Buena Vista
3 Iron Man 26,111,130 31,838,996 -18.0 3,915 4 6,670 258,278,546 Paramount
4 What Happens in Vegas 11,363,713 13,883,874 -18.2 3,188 3 3,565 56,609,605 Fox
5 Speed Racer 5,272,202 8,117,459 -35.1 3,112 3 1,694 37,481,539 Warner Bros.
6 Made of Honor 4,240,435 4,702,950 -9.8 2,393 4 1,772 39,901,734 Sony
7 Baby Mama 4,208,105 4,680,610 -10.1 2,158 5 1,950 53,016,250 Universal
8 Forgetting Sarah Marshall 2,269,775 2,786,220 -18.5 1,073 6 2,115 58,798,745 Universal
9 Harold & Kumar Escape From... 1,163,460 1,997,450 -41.8 750 5 1,551 36,152,416 New Line
10 The Visitor 940,037 672,448 39.8 270 6 3,482 4,591,262 Overture
11 Horton Hears A Who 625,105 411,616 51.9 488 11 1,281 152,076,723 Fox
12 The Forbidden Kingdom 556,015 1,073,856 -48.2 487 6 1,142 51,358,618 Lionsgate
13 Then She Found Me 503,004 469,018 7.2 150 5 3,353 2,181,214 ThinkFilm
14 Young@Heart 425,820 332,329 28.1 212 7 2,009 2,510,297 Fox Searchlight
15 Nim's Island 397,290 588,856 -32.5 426 8 933 45,794,492 Fox
16 College Road Trip 360,438 283,582 27.1 283 12 1,274 44,275,094 Buena Vista
17 Drillbit Taylor 346,197 297,565 16.3 218 10 1,588 32,537,768 Paramount
18 Son of Rambow 323,617 236,921 36.6 152 4 2,129 939,530 Par. Vantage
19 Prom Night 253,294 452,088 -44.0 287 7 883 43,818,159 Sony
20 Roman de Gare 201,142 107,805 86.6 35 5 5,747 706,277 Samuel Goldwyn
Top 5 $ 199,474,581 $ 113,578,084 75.6
Top 10 212,296,393 124,788,668 70.1
Top 20 216,288,315 128,672,605 68.1
Top 20 vs. 2007 216,288,315 250,528,430 -13.7

Last Updated: May 27, 2008 at 9:15PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Friday at 9:50am ET.