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‘Indiana Jones’ Wrecks ‘Pink Cadillac’ at the Box Office

Times Staff Writer

In his latest adventure, Indiana Jones travels halfway around the globe to slay Nazis, mysterious Middle Eastern cultists and assorted other bad guys who get in the way of his search for the Holy Grail.

But the rogue archeologist has also claimed one victim closer to home: box office champ Clint Eastwood.

Paramount’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” which enjoyed the greatest dollar volume for an opening week, weekend and single day in movie history--primarily because ticket prices have risen--trounced Eastwood’s latest release from Warners, “Pink Cadillac.”

The Memorial Day weekend competition between superstar Eastwood and Harrison Ford (a.k.a. “Indiana Jones”) was the opening blast in what promises to be a heated summer war at the box office. Coming soon: “Batman” and “Ghostbusters II,” both of which--like “The Last Crusade"--will play in more than 2,000 theaters. “Pink Cadillac” played in 1,993 theaters.

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With $4.4 million in ticket sales over the four-day weekend, opening business of Eastwood’s movie was half that enjoyed by his previous hits, including “The Dead Pool” ($9 million in 1988); “Heartbreak Ridge” ($8.1 million in 1986); and “Pale Rider” ($9.1 million in 1985).

“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” which grossed $37 million over the four-day Memorial Day holiday, enjoyed the biggest opening weekend ever, according to John Krier, president of Exhibitor Relations Inc., which compiles box office figures. The previous record-holder for an opening weekend was “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” the second film in the trilogy, with nearly $34 million in ticket sales. Despite Paramount’s claims of breaking records, the film’s business was substantially boosted by the increase in ticket prices, not because more people bought tickets. Since “Temple of Doom” opened in 1984, for example, ticket prices have increased by 22%, according to figures provided by Motion Picture Assn. of America. Since 1981, when the first installment of the trilogy opened, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” prices have increased 48%.

Without adjusting for this inflation, Paramount said that other records broken by “The Last Crusade,” estimated by studio sources to cost more than $60 million to produce, were:

--The biggest opening week. During its first six days in the theater, “The Last Crusade” grossed $46.9 million, compared to the previous record-holder, “The Temple of Doom,” which grossed $45.7 million during its first week in 1984.

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--The biggest single day. Saturday grosses at $11.2 million, as well as Sunday grosses at $10.2 million, exceeded those of the previous record-holder for a single day, “Beverly Hills Cop II.”

Phil Garfinkle, senior vice president of Entertainment Data Inc., predicted that “The Last Crusade’s” business will drop substantially in the coming week because the holiday is over and the “must-sees"--those who stood in line opening weekend--have already been through the theaters. But he predicted that “The Last Crusade” will enjoy good word-of-mouth.

“Indiana Jones” reunited director Steven Spielberg, executive producer George Lucas and star Harrison Ford for the last part of a popular trilogy that began in 1981 with the release of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” While audiences and critics can endlessly debate the merits of the current film compared to the first, “The Last Crusade” is widely considered to be a better crowd-pleaser than the second installment, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

Weekend Gross/ Screens/ Weeks Movie(Studio) Total(millions) Average in Release 1."Indiana Jones” $37.0 2,327 1 (Paramount) $46.9 $20,161 2."See No Evil, Hear No Evil” $6.1 1,680 3 (Tri-Star) $23.6 $3,649 3."Field of Dreams” $5.7 1,093 6 (Universal) $30.7 $5,195 4."Road House” $5.0 1,935 2 (MGM/UA) $13.2 $2,139 5."Pink Cadillac” $4.4 1,993 1 (Warners) $4.4 $2,212

SOURCE: Exhibitor Relations Co.


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