Indy on trail of boxoffice grail

Record opening possible, but does it have staying power?

Industry tracking shows Uwe Boll's "Postal" making a late surge in prerelease polling against the recently bowed "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."


Actually, "Postal" appears to be going nowhere. Originally slated by Boll-owned distributor Event Film as a wide release with as many as 1,500 playdates, those plans have been scratched after a deafening chorus of resistance from major exhibitors.

Regal Cinemas and AMC circuits refused to play the farcical and politically driven black comedy, so it's now tagged for distribution starting Friday in just 13-15 theaters in seven markets.

There is one other result from exhibitors' revolt against "Postal," which spins a fantastical yarn featuring President Bush, Osama bin Laden and assorted Sept. 11 references: high prospects of a quick detour to DVD bins.

Meanwhile, Paramount's latest Indiana Jones adventure debuted in about 2,000 locations at a 12:01 a.m. Thursday. Many venues sold out for the earliest showtimes, with playdates set to swell to at least 4,260 by Friday.

Paramount executives make no bones about hoping that "Skull" can outgross in its five-day debut the $151.1 million bow posted by Sony's "Spider-Man 3" over a three-day frame in May 2007. Yet the market impact from the summer's most-anticipated opening will be measured not just this frame but also during the next couple of sessions.

Next Friday, wide openers will include Warner Bros.' high-profile film adaptation of HBO's "Sex and the City," and many have been predicting that lingering Indy mania could prove an obstacle for the film. But though "Sex" likely will pull audiences filled three-fourths with women, there appears little chance that the film will fail to draw deeply among the targeted half of the world's population.

Fandango said this week that advance group sales of tickets have been high for "Sex." A majority of respondents said they planned to attend the movie as part of a group, the online ticketing service said.

Two weekends down the road -- and surely Steven Spielberg's Harrison Ford starrer still will be playing strong -- wide openers include the family-oriented animated feature "Kung Fu Panda" from DreamsWorks/Paramount and the Adam Sandler comedy "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" from Sony. Both films have sufficient audience focus as to sidestep any lingering Indy wake.

But pity the other holdover films at multiplexes this weekend. Disney's family-fantasy sequel "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" bears particularly close watching for signs of whether it will prove leggy enough as to offset its underperformance of the franchise original with last weekend's $55 million bow.