Clapboard – Indiana Jones’ Whips Up $101m

WASHINGTON ~ Whip-cracking archaeologist Indiana Jones dug up treasure at the box office at the weekend, with the return of Harrison Ford’s fedora-topped icon pulling in US$101 million over three days at North American theaters, Hollywood figures showed.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull grabbed the lion’s share of movie audiences over the US’s Memorial Day weekend, according to preliminary figures from box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

The movie set opening records for both Ford and legendary director Steven Spielberg, but paled for a Memorial Day weekend next to 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which earned $114.7 million and X-Men: The Last Stand, which took in $102.8 million on the same weekend in 2006.

That was a sign of the downturn in theater receipts this year, with earnings off so far by four percent and attendance down over seven percent. For the Memorial Day weekend, total earnings were projected to fall 15 percent from last year, Exhibitor Relations said.

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull marked the return of the now four-film Indiana Jones franchise after nearly two decades, with Ford, almost 66, still drawing raves as the sometimes bumbling action-star first introduced to audiences in the 1981 blockbuster Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Second in the weekend rankings was last week’s kids’ fantasy chart-topper The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, which earned $23 million. That was followed by Iron Man, which brought in $20.2 million, taking its four-week total to $252.3 million.

Fourth was the romantic comedy What Happens in Vegas, starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, with $9 million, and fifth was Speed Racer, at $4 million in tickets sold.

Rounding out the top 10 for the three-day period were: Made of Honor ($3.4 million); Baby Mama ($3.3 million); Forgetting Sarah Marshall ($1.7 million); Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay ($915,000); and The Visitor ($781,000).

Exhibitor Relations estimated the total take for the four-day weekend for the top 12 films would be $208 million, compared to $246.4 million a year ago.

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