David James/Paramount Pictures
Indiana Jones fans, the theory goes, are different.
"They're not like Trekkie fans, and they're not like Star Wars fans," says filmmaker Brandon Kleyla, choosing his words carefully. "They're more humble."
Or maybe not.
Fans of the George Lucas-Steven Spielberg adventure franchise are expected to help Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, opening on nearly 4,000 screens at midnight tonight, to a five-day debut of a very unhumble $150 million. Or more.
"It looks to be the movie that all other blockbusters will try to beat for the summer box-office crown," Gitesh Pandya, editor of BoxOfficeGuru.com, said in an email interview.
Pandya foresees a Thursday-Monday, extended Memorial Day weekend opening "north of $150 million."
Box-office analyst Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations Co. is thinking $175 million, a figure that would match the record set by Lucas' Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith, which collected nine figures over the same span in 2005.
Both see Kingdom of the Crystal Skull doing what Speed Racer and, to a lesser degree, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian couldn't do—dominate the family market.
Sketchy buzz over the weekend that gave way to solid reviews in the past few days seemingly has fueled expectations. A nearly 20-year wait between movies clearly has fueled anticipation.
And when pent-up demand meets opening day? Bock predicts that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth film in the Indiana Jones series, will gross as much as $50 million tomorrow. That would again put it in the neighborhood of Revenge of the Sith, currently the all-time Thursday king.
And that's only the tip of the bullwhip. The real money for the new Indiana Jones lies overseas where the iconic Harrison Ford archaeologist is, well, extra iconic.
"This is Indiana Jones and the Quest for Worldwide Domination," Bock says. "Make no mistake, this is going to be a hit worldwide."
Kleyla is not surprised by the lofty expectations. The actor-director is, after all, something of an expert on the appeal of Indiana Jones. He's a fan—a child of the '80s who first discovered the good Dr. Jones at a theme park. He's a collector. And he's a documentarian.
His new film, Indyfans and the Quest for Fortune and Glory, profiles more than 50 devotees of Henry Walton Jones Jr., Ph.D.
If the documentary sounds like Trekkies for Indiana Jones followers, then it is, sort of. And it isn't, sort of. For one thing, there aren't any Indiana Jones convention scenes because, according to Kleyla, there aren't any Indiana Jones conventions.
"It's just a different breed of fan," Kleyla says. "…Some of them have really amazing careers, and huge jobs, and you wouldn't know it until you walk into their office and see the Indy mannequin."
The stealth nature of the fandom stems, in part, Kleyla thinks, from Jones' penchant for the workaday ensemble of khakis, leather jacket and fedora.
"The thing with the Indy outfit is," Kleyla says, "you can wear it around, and nobody knows."
Actually, Kleyla acknowledges, the hat usually is the tip-off. And he expects to see quite a lot of them in the coming days.
"No doubt they'll be there opening weekend," he says of the faithful. "They'll show up dressed and ready to go."
And in that respect, Indiana Jones fans are just like Star Wars and Star Trek fans.
"They plunk down their cash," says Bock. "And that's what counts."