Spielberg's sequel gets off to strong start

Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” posted a domestic gross of nearly $25 million from 4,260 theaters as it opened Thursday in a strong, but not record-breaking, start.

Looking to take advantage of the long Memorial Day holiday, Paramount decided to unspool the tentpole one day early and go out on Thursday, meaning a five-day opening. Par is distributing the film — which opened day-and-date around the globe — on behalf of George Lucas’ Lucasfilm. 

Toplining Harrison Ford, “Crystal Skull” marks the return of Spielberg’s classic action-adventure franchise to the bigscreen after nearly 20 years. Film has been tracking strongly, particularly among older adults. 

All along, the challenge for Par has been to whip up interest among younger auds who didn’t grow up on the first three “Indiana Jones” movies. 

“Crystal Skull” scored the fourth best Thursday opening ever after Lucas’ “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” which grossed a whopping $50 million in its opening day, “The Matrix Reloaded,” which grossed $42.5 million, and “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones,” which grossed $30.1 million. Those three films likewise all opened in May. 

Film got off to a strong start in France and Belgium, grossing $2.2 million as it opened in theaters there Wednesday.  International numbers for Thursday weren’t available as of Friday morning.  

“Crystal Skull” also stars Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen and Ray Winstone. 

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)

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