“Indiana Jones” unearthed box office gold at domestic theaters with a performance that puts it on track to become the second biggest Memorial Day movie opening ever, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Harrison Ford stars in Paramount Pictures’ “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”
The fourth installment of the whip-cracking professor’s exploits, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” grossed an estimated $101 million from Friday to Sunday, plus $25 million from its opening Thursday, distributor Paramount Pictures said. The company expects it to earn another $25 million on Monday.
That would put it behind only “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” which had a Friday-through-Monday total of $139.8 million, in the pantheon of Memorial Day weekend blockbusters.
Including Thursday’s receipts, “Indiana Jones” was expected to collect $151 million over five days, slightly behind “Pirates,” which took in $153 million with a partial Thursday included.
“‘Indiana Jones’ did incredibly well for a film that comes 19 years after the previous installment,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of tracking firm Media By Numbers LLC.
The adventure flick received a lackluster reception from critics at the Cannes Film Festival, but audiences thought otherwise.
Box office estimates grew from $25 million on its opening Thursday through $37 million on Saturday, suggesting strong word of mouth, Dergarabedian said.
“This is the definition of a summer movie from two of the architects of the summer movie season — George Lucas and Steven Spielberg,” he said. “These guys have it down to a science and audiences want to go along for that ride.”
The first three Indy movies took in $1.2 billion worldwide.
Disney’s action sequel, “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” slipped to second place with $23 million, for a total of $91.1 million over two weeks. The company expected the movie to continue to play well as school lets out.
“Once you start getting the mass number of kids out of school, it turns into some serious money,” said Chuck Viane, president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man” clinched another $20.1 million, bringing its domestic total to $252.3 million. A sequel is set for release in 2010.
The 20th Century Fox comedy, “What Happens in Vegas,” continued to roll with $9 million in its third week, for a total of $54.2 million.
Fox senior vice president Bert Livingstone said high gas prices were encouraging people to see movies rather than take long trips away from home.
“This is the last great bargain,” Livingstone said.