Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

2008 Lucasfilm Ltd.

If it's treasure Indiana Jones wants, he'll have to wait for the weekend to collect the lion's share of it.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opened Thursday with an estimated $25 million, per Exhibitor Relations Co.

The number puts the movie, the fourth in the adventure franchise, at fourth on the list for biggest Thursday debuts, per the stats at Box Office Mojo.

But it puts it at no better than 28th for all-time opening days (regardless of the day of the week), and falls short of expectations that, at their most expectant, pegged a $50 million start.

By comparison, Iron Man last month collected $35.2 million on its opening day (a Friday), good for 13th all-time.

Still, box office experts were not ready to count out, or against, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's savvy archaeologist.

"I'll think we'll know more from Friday," Exhibitor Relations Jeff Bock said today. "This'll play more like a family film."

Family films tend to do their biggest business on the weekend.

The PG-13-rated Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is viewed as the summer family film to beat, especially with Speed Racer crashing and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian losing at its own expectations game.

"It should do better on the weekend," Box Office Mojo's Brandon Gray said today.

The one potential booby trap awaiting Dr. Jones: Young moviegoers.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, starring the 65-year-old Harrison Ford, is the first Indiana Jones movie in a generation, since 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Because it also debuted after a lengthy gap between new movies, Lucas' own Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace might be the best guidepost for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That franchise restarter opened with $28.5 million en route to a $431.1 million domestic gross, per Box Office Mojo.

The booby trap in that argument: The Phantom Menace opened nearly 10 years ago, when the average ticket was nearly $2 cheaper than it is today. Its $28.5 million represented a lot more tickets sold than the new Indiana Jones' $25 million.

Still, Bock, who was calling for a five-day, Memorial Day weekend gross of as much as $175 million for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, was not ready to call off the projection.

Gray essentially agreed. "Chances are now it'll end up below expectations," he said, "but the verdict is still out."

Not that Indiana Jones has ever had to deal with tough odds before…

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