Thursday, May 22, 2008

Final Indiana Jones box office guesses...

It's a mere ten hours before the official Thursday estimates come trickling in, so let's do this before it's too late. For what it's worth, I started this post about three days ago but kept getting distracted. I'm not as sharp in the realm of box office guessing as I was back in my high school and college days, but here goes...

The record five day opening is $172 million for Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith. Other numbers to consider are the $140 million five-day gross for The Matrix Reloaded and the $121 million five-day gross for Star Wars: Episode II: Attack Of The Clones. Since Indiana Jones' opening weekend will officially be the same Thurs-Mon schedule as those three examples (with the added benefit of Monday being Memorial Day), those films can figure in here.

Now, in theory, every person who went to see Star Wars Episode III would likely go to Indiana Jones 4 just as briskly. Of course, in three years, people get older and lifestyles change (I'm married with a kid and getting over a cold, so instead of the Wednesday midnight showing, I'm waiting till a Saturday 3pm matinée), but the general fan base remains the same. The question is whether the older, busier fans will see it during opening weekend or be willing to wait till its convenient, even if that means Tuesday or next weekend. The reviews have been mostly positive (79% on Rotten Tomatoes) and there is a general sense of relief that the film wasn't botched. All in all, the hype and reviews are setting the stage for a mammoth weekend.

However, don't expect any single day records. Unlike most tent pole franchises of late, Indiana Jones is skewing a little older, banking on adults and twenty-somethings who loved the series more so than young kids who think that Indy looks swell. Thus, there may not be enough newer young fans to compensate for the ones who are growing too old for the 'see it as soon as possible' mentality. And, since again this is a series that skews older, beware of older fans over-estimating the crowds and deciding to skip opening weekend. This happened with Star Wars: Episode One, where there was so much talk about how quickly sold-out each showing would be that many casual fans decided to wait and not fight the crowds, thus preventing the three-day Fri-Sun record from being broken.

Also, in a manner similar to Shrek 2, this is a weekday opening of a movie that fans and casual moviegoers can wait till the weekend to catch. Thus, the film's biggest day will likely not be Thursday, but rather Friday or Saturday. Anything over $30 million for Thursday would be a huge win, and don't believe the naysayers who decry a mere $25 million opening take. A $25 million Thursday could easily equal a $35 million Friday that could build, Shrek 2-style, into a $40 million Saturday.

Taking that into account, expect a $110 million Fri-Sun gross, plus about $25 million for Thursday and $25 million for Monday. So that puts the probable (who are we kidding, I'm just doing the math and guessing just like everyone else) five-day number at a bountiful $160 million (which would put it fourth all time, behind Spider-Man 3, Pirates 2, and Star Wars III). Of course, if the numbers get anywhere near the $169 million that Spidey and Pirates scored, expect some number-massaging to allow Indy to move up the list to number two.

So, there it is, Scott Mendelson's official Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull predictions:

Thursday - $25 million
Friday - $35 million
Saturday - $40 million
Sunday - $35 million
Monday - $25 million
Total Five-Day - $160 million
Official three-day weekend number (Fri-Sun) - $110 million

I'll likely update tomorrow once the actual numbers come in.

Scott Mendelson

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