Moviegoers gave their blessing to the "The Da Vinci Code" over the weekend,
spending an estimated $77 million to see the Tom Hanks religious thriller.
This July 2005 photo,
supplied by Sony Pictures, shows Audrey Tautou and Tom Hanks outside
Paris' Louvre Museum in a scene from Columbia Pictures' 'The Da Vinci
Code.' The film, criticized by many reviewers as dull, is just the latest
proof that a book that keeps you turning the pages late at night won't
necessarily keep you awake in the theater.
While the film didn't set a domestic box office record, it was the largest
weekend opening of the year so far and became the second largest worldwide
release after "Star Wars: Episode III." It garnered some $224 million worldwide,
according to Sony Pictures.
The film also was the best domestic opening for both Hanks and director Ron
The movie's performance, combined with the family film "Over the Hedge"
debuting in second place with $37.2 million, was a welcome contrast to the last
two weekends that saw disappointing results from "Poseidon" and "Mission:
The total box office was down about 2.8 percent from the same weekend last
year, according to studio estimates released Sunday. But that's a tough
comparison given that last year's numbers included the record-setting debut of
"Star Wars: Episode III."
"'Da Vinci' opening this big just tells you that people do want to go to the
movies, they just need the right movie to go," said Paul Dergarabedian,
president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
Sony Pictures took a risk in the marketing of "The Da Vinci Code," keeping
the adaptation of the Dan Brown best-seller under wraps until a few days before
The film received mixed reviews and protesters picketed outside a number of
theaters, upset over the story's suggestion that Jesus Christ was married and
had a child. But the controversy did little to deter moviegoers, who packed
theaters in almost every country the film debuted.
"You had a built-in audience from the book and the awareness levels were so
high from this film," Dergarabedian said. "You would have to live under a rock
not to know this movie was opening."
The movie also set opening-weekend records in Italy and Spain, Sony Pictures
"This is a fantastically great surprise for us this morning," said Jeff
Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures.
It was good news for the studio, which had been struggling of late and had
been counting on "The Da Vinci Code" to boost its fortunes.
"This is starting out to be a very good year," studio chief Amy Pascal said.