UNEASY LIES THE PRINCE THAT WEARS THE CROWN

Although a few box office analysts had predicted that The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian would gross as much as $100 million over the weekend and the general prediction was that it would do about $70-80 million, the film fell far short of those predictions. According to studio estimates, it opened with $56.6 million. It was the second week in a row that a big-budget film had failed to fulfill expectations -- although Prince Caspian did not match the disastrous performance of last week's Speed Racer, which opened with just $18.6 million. That film sold only $7.6 million in its second week and dropped to fourth place. Iron Man, which had held the top spot for the previous two weeks, dropped to second place with $31.2 million, as it crossed the $200-million mark to finish the weekend with $222.5 million. What Happens in Vegas slipped to third place with $13.9 million, to bring its domestic total to $40.3 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Media by Numbers:

1. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, $56.6 million; 2. Iron Man, $31.2 million; 3. What Happens in Vegas, $13.9 million; 4. Speed Racer, $7.6 million; 5. Baby Mama, $4.6 million; 6. Made of Honor, $4.5 million; 7. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, $2.5 million; 8. Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantánamo Bay, $1.8 million; 9. The Forbidden Kingdom, $1 million; 10. The Visitor, $687,000.

MOVIE REVIEWS: INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

Harrison Ford told a news conference at the Cannes Film Festival that he expected critics to turn Indiana Jones's whip on him following this week's release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. "It's not unusual for something that is popular to be disdained by some people, and I fully expect it." He called the film a "celebration of the movies" -- and there are elements of almost every genre represented in it -- from old-time afternoon serials, to Tarzan flicks, to sci-fi to Elvis musicals (it's set in 1957, and we hear Elvis singing over an opening scene) -- even, as Spielberg himself later conceded at a news conference, his as-yet-unproduced Tintin films. "Somehow I just feel inured from professional criticism." Ford added. A good thing, too, since some of the initial criticism does indeed crackle like Indiana's whip. Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune, calling the movie "disappointingly humorless,"says that it "is so nervous about falling into the quicksands of camp that it forgets to deliver a good time." Rick Honeycutt in the Hollywood Reporter/Reuterssays that the plot "gets swamped in a sea of stunts and special effects that are relentless as the scenes and character relationships are charmless." Peter Bradshaw in Britain's Guardian concludes: "This is a moment for Harrison Ford to hang up the hat." On the other hand, James Christopher in the London Times concludes his review by proclaiming that the film "is, quite simply, exquisite nonsense. Welcome back Indy. Lord knows we've missed you." And, indeed, most critics echo those cheers. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times sums up: "If you like the other Indiana Jones movies, you will like this one." (Clearly Ebert loves this one.) Lou Lumenick in the New York Post has the identical reaction, writing, "Fans of the series -- you can include me -- will lap it up, flaws and all, and likely make it the summer's biggest blockbuster." And Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News describes the movie as "entertaining, inventive and old-fashioned in the best way."

MORE INDY MOVIES AHEAD?

If Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull turns out to be the kind of hit many industry observers expect, it's likely that a fifth Indy film will follow, the filmmakers told a news conference at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday. Asked whether he'd make any more Indy sequels, Spielberg replied, "Only if you want more of them." He added, "That's the reason why we made this Indiana Jones," explaining that no one has ever asked him to make a sequel to 1941 or AI: Artificial Intelligence. "So certainly we'll have our ear to the ground this summer and that will decide where we go from here." In an interview with FoxNews.com's Roger Friedman, Lucas added, "I haven't even told Steven or Harrison this. But I have an idea to make Shia the lead character next time and have Harrison come back like Sean Connery did in the last movie. I can see it working out." That may be the only way Harrison Ford might return. He has previously told interviewers that Crystal Skull will be his last film as Indy.

WOODY: BARCELONA, SI; RUSSIA, NYET

Appearing at a news conference in Cannes, where his latest movie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, had its world premiere over the weekend, Woody Allen was asked by an enthusiastic fan/reporter from Uzbekistan when he might make a film in Russia or Central Asia. To the reporter's chagrin, Allen suggested that he was unlikely ever to do so. A few years ago, he said, he took his family for what was planned as a five-day holiday in Leningrad. "I was there for about two hours and I went to the travel agency in the hotel and I said, 'Get me the first reservation out of here, I don't care where it goes.'" He said that he has been told that things had changed since then, but "it would take a lot to get me back. I don't travel well."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.