INDIANA JONES AND THE GOLDEN BOX OFFICE

Every box-office analyst agrees: the Memorial Day holiday debut of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is going to be enormous. The only remaining question is whether it will be more enormous than Spider-Man 3, which opened In May 2007 with a record $151.6 million. The film is opening in 4,206 theaters domestically and in 61 other countries. The worldwide result could be as much as $400 million, a few analysts are predicting. But then again, the track record of box-office forecasters has been dreadful during the past few weeks.

MOVIE REVIEWS: INDIANA JONES AND THE ... CRYSTAL SKULL

Film critics who held off their reviews of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last weekend are having a go at it today (Thursday), the official opening day of the movie. Manohla Dargis in the New York Times gives it merely a so-so critique. "There's plenty of frantic energy here, lots of noise and money too, but what's absent is any sense of rediscovery, the kind that's necessary whenever a filmmaker dusts off an old formula or a genre standard," she writes. But who needs that? Ty Burr seems to ask in the Boston Globe. What audiences want, he remarks, is "engaged nostalgia, I think, and on that level Crystal Skull delivers. This isn't a reinvention but a reunion, of characters, creators, even techniques." Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle faults director Steven Spielberg for insisting on making the action nonstop, resulting in what he calls "probably the worst of the Indiana Jones movies." Nevertheless, he adds, that action "is more inventive, more lovingly detailed and a lot more pleasurable than anything you could hope to see in [other] action movies." Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post welcomes back "the hero." There's a pleasure, he writes, in seeing the Indiana Jones character. He "hasn't a crystal jaw, much less a glass one. Hit him, he gets up and hits you back. He always figures out a way to win. ... It's romantic manliness at its purest, almost but not quite schmaltz, ideally calculated to please true believers and ironic snorters at once."

WILL SODERBERGH'S CHE BE RELEASED?

Steven Soderbergh's four-and-a-half-hour film Che had its debut at the Cannes Film Festival Wednesday night. The film, which stars Benicio del Toro in the title role of Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, received mixed reviews, with Peter Howell of the Toronto Star calling it "elephantine" and predicting that if it is released as-is, "it will do nada at the box office and end up as el stiffo grande." On the other hand, Farah Nayeri of Bloomberg News said that Soderbergh "delivers enough moments of great cinema -- especially the majestic end -- to redeem himself in the viewer's bleary eyes." Thus far, the $61.5-million film has reportedly attracted no bidders at Cannes. Not only does it deal with a controversial subject, but the dialog is in Spanish with English subtitles, and the length of the film makes only one showing a night possible at theaters. At a news conference today (Thursday) Soderbergh proposed that theater owners present it as one movie for the first week, then split it up, showing the first part the second week and the second part the third week. He also suggested that a printed program might help audiences follow along. "That would be something fun," he remarked. He also quipped that the film presents a marketing opportunity: "It's all an elaborate way for us to sell our own T-shirts."

SONY FILMS TO DISTRIBUTE LIVE SHOWS AT DIGITAL THEATERS

Sony Films hopes to expand the utilization of new digital projection equipment in theaters by launching a new division, Hot Ticket, that will provide live concerts, plays and sports events in high definition and sometimes in 3D to theaters. The studio said that its first presentation will be Delirium, a Cirque du Soleil production, in August. The following month it will present the musical Rent on its closing night on Broadway. Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer told today's (Thursday) Los Angeles Times that the company plans to present about 10-12 such events a year. "In the beginning this business is not going to be a huge moneymaker," Bruer said, "but this is a long-term play."

Cinemark Movie Club
Brian B.