'Indy' Whips Up Massive Start
After 19 years of anticipation, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull wasn't one for the record books but it was exceptionally popular in its Memorial Day weekend debut. Overall Memorial attendance, though, was the lowest of the decade, due to Indy being the sole new nationwide release and the disappointing holdovers from the past two weeks.

The fourth Indiana Jones donned a massive $126.9 million on approximately 9,000 screens at 4,260 theaters over the four-day weekend. That ranked as the second highest grossing Memorial weekend opening ever behind Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, despite burning off some demand before the weekend with a Thursday start. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull handily outdrew the debuts of the previous Indy movies from the Eighties. That's not an insignificant feat given that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade each broke the opening weekend record in their day, and the new installment nearly doubled their starts after adjusting for ticket price inflation. Adjusted, the final tally of the first movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, would equal over $600 million today, but Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was only realistically aiming for the attendance levels of the other two, with The Last Crusade as the low bar at $340 million adjusted.

Failing to break records for the purported most anticipated picture of the season may seem like a bit of a letdown, but, hype aside, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was just another Indiana Jones adventure: a fun yarn that appeals to the entire family. In the marketing, no great new stakes or hooks were presented, the stunts and special effects weren't particularly flashy by today's spectacle standards and the clunky title befitted the movie's Fifties setting and the series' B-movie roots. The tenor of the advertising was simply that Indy's back, with Harrison Ford reprising the role and John Williams' famous score rumbling in support. A franchise is profoundly strong if all an ad campaign has to do is announce its return to score $152 million in five days.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian melted an alarming 59 percent over the proper three-day weekend period, a steeper drop than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe after a smaller start. The fantasy sequel grossed $29.8 million over the long weekend for $97.9 million in 11 days, while Lion had $117.8 million at the same point.

Hot on Narnia's heels, Iron Man bended little in its fourth weekend, making $26.1 million over the four-day session. With $258.3 million in 25 days, it's now the tenth most attended comic adaptation on the books. Meanwhile, the highest profile contender to the big fantastical movies, What Happens in Vegas, hung in there with an $11.4 million four-day for $56.6 million in 18 days, but Speed Racer continued to slide and the rest of the box office was quiet.


• Review: 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'

• 5/29/07 - Third 'Pirates' Sacks Memorial Record (Same Weekend, 2007)

• 5/30/06 - 'X-Men' Marvels with Memorial Record (Same Weekend, 2006)

• 5/31/05 - Final 'Star Wars' Edges Out Computerized Critters and Secondhand Convicts (Same Weekend, 2005)

• 5/31/04 - Globe Warms to 'Day After Tomorrow' (Same Weekend, 2004)

• 5/27/03 - 'Bruce' Blesses Memorial Weekend (Same Weekend, 2003)

• 5/26/02 - 'Clones,' 'Spider-Man' Lead Record Memorial Weekend (Same Weekend, 2002)


4-day Weekend Box Office Results

3-day Weekend Box Office Results

• Period Adventures

• All Time Memorial Day Weekends