'Indiana Jones' nabs $126 mil opening weekend

Five-day cume estimated at $151 mil

Paramount's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" unearthed an estimated $126.1 million over its holiday-swelled opening weekend and a glowing $151.1 million since its Thursday bow.

Yet for all the pre-release anticipation of the first Indy sequel in 19 years, there were no notable industry records marked over its first five days.

Data service Nielsen EDI recognizes three- and four-day openings including those stretched by a U.S. national holiday. So for the record books, the $126 million in Friday-Monday grosses for "Skull" compare to openings topped by last year's three-day bow for "Spider-Man 3" of $151.1 million.

Other boxoffice comparisons include the $172.8 million rung up by "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" over its first five days after unspooling on a Thursday and playing through a non-holiday weekend in May 2005.

The "Skull" performance can also be roughly compared to the five-day performance of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," which unspooled at 8 p.m. Thursday before the 2007 Memorial Day weekend and grossed $160.6 million through the Monday holiday.

Produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by Paramount, "Skull" rolled out in about 2,000 venues at 12:01 a.m. Thursday before expanding to 4,260 locations on Friday.

Disney's "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" finished second in the weekend rankings, fetching $28.6 million over four days. That included an unfortunate 58% drop in its Friday-Sunday tally as compared to its opening weekend, while its 11-day cume hit $96.7 million.

Paramount's "Iron Man" finished third over its fourth weekend with $25.7 million through the holiday-lengthened frame and a $257.8 million cume. The Marvel-produced comic book adaptation, easily the year's top-grossing release to date, appears to have a shot at reaching the rarefied $300 million boxoffice benchmark before the end of its domestic run.

Meanwhile, "Skull" seemed to play broadly but a little older than the typical action sequel or adventure film.

With Steven Spielberg again helming and Harrison Ford and other returning cast members joined by newcomers Shia LaBeouf and Cate Blanchett, "Skull" drew considerably mixed reviews. But solid weekend grosses showed the film played well with family audiences and older patrons who were fans of the first three franchise titles.

Exit surveys showed 66% of "Skull" patrons were 25 and older, with parents with kids in tow representing 30% of such moviegoers. Audiences were evenly split between male and female moviegoers, execs said.

"This is a movie being driven by adults and not by teens," Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore said. "For adult moviegoers, this is one of their favorite movie franchises, and they were thrilled to have another adventure."

The "Skull" performance represented Spielberg's best domestic bow and also marked both his and Paramount's biggest worldwide opening, with the $311 million in five-day global grosses for "Skull" outpacing the $202 million worldwide bow for 2005's "War of the Worlds." The "Skull" opening was also the biggest ever for a live-action Paramount release.

Industrywide, even the big Indy numbers couldn't keep the holiday weekend from marking a big 16% decline from the same frame last year, with $215,000 in collective boxoffice rung up over the latest frame, according to Nielsen EDI.

The summer tally is running 9% below last year so far. Year-to-date, 2008 is off the same portion of last year by 3%, at $3.26 billion.

In a limited bow this weekend, Sony Pictures Classics unspooled its war drama "The Children of Huang Shi" in seven locations and grossed $54,254 over the holiday-lengthened frame. That represented a sturdy per-venue average of $7,751. And "War Inc.," a John Cusack-starring black comedy from First Look and Nu Image, debuted with a four-day gross of $50,714 from single playdates in New York and Los Angeles, or an auspicious $25,357 per engagement.

Elsewhere in the specialty market, Overture's drama "The Visitor" visited an additional 46 theaters for a total of 270 and grossed $917,000 -- an acceptable $3,396 per venue -- with a $4.6 million cume. The limited-release performance was good enough to grab 10th place on the frame.

Paramount Vantage's Brit comedy "Son of Rambow" stalked 61 additional playdates for a total of 152 to fetch $310,389 over the four-day frame, or just $2,042 per engagement, with a cume of $926,302.

IDP/Samuel Goldwyn's light-hearted romance "Priceless" added five runs for a total of 38 and grossed $91,390, or only $2,405 per site, with a $1.6 million cume.

The French-language drama "Roman de gare," also from IDP and Goldwyn, added 11 locations for a total of 35 and grossed $197,050, or a solid $5,643 per location, as its cume reached $702,185.

Miramax's drama "Reprise" added three theaters for a total of 14 and grossed $110,600, or a sturdy $7,903, with a cume of $184,300.

IFC Films' drama "Sangre de mi Sangre" grossed $17,400 from six playdates, or $2,900 per engagement, with a cume of $28,516 after bowing with a single New York run one week earlier.

Looking ahead to this weekend, the frame's two wide openers are aimed at well-targeted constituencies. That should help the films' chances for success over what's sure to be another big session for "Skull."

Warner Bros. will unspool its female-targeted comedy "Sex and the City," an adaptation of the popular HBO series, and Universal genre unit Rogue Pictures will bow the youth-oriented horror film "The Strangers," starring Liv Tyler.
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