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Up to Code
by Christopher Stone

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Paul Bettany is DA VINCI'S Avenging Angel

Paul Bettany is DA VINCI'S Avenging Angel
Stateside, the box office is summer success dependent. Quite simply, in the USA, it's inconceivable to have a great box office year without a stunning summer semester. Last summer underlined, highlighted, and telescoped that point. With few exceptions, Summer 2005 was a bust, and the year produced an endless parade of box office gloom and doom columns, commentaries, and other editorials.

Last month, a longtime friend graduated the USC School of Cinema and Television. The following week, over lunch, he predicted a landmark summer box office season. Unfortunately, he won't be here to see it. His cap and gown barely returned from the Dry Cleaner, he's already inked to spend the summer working on a documentary about piracy on the high seas to be filmed around Kuala Lumpur.

We who remain at home can only hope that his rosy box office prediction comes to pass. The season got off to a dubious start with MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE: III. Clearly in the hit column, the Cruise caper has just as clearly underperformed.

Then there was POSEIDON, the $150+ million rehash of THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, a minor classic and Academy Award winner from the 1970s. THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE was a highly popular, well-made disaster movie. May's POSEIDON was a box office debacle that also
POSEIDON tanked with audiences and critics

POSEIDON tanked with audiences and critics
took a critical pounding.

Once again, I suggest that filmmakers remake the movies that didn't realize their potential, and leave well enough alone when the filmmakers nailed the picture the first time.

On May 19, the summer box office season got a real shot in the arm with the release of THE DA VINCI CODE, a film that has grossed a phenomenal $585 million worldwide as of June 6, and shows no sign of vanishing from the box office radar. Despite, or possibly because of, its controversial nature, Matchflickers around the world can't seem to get enough of the Ron Howard film. It's even more popular internationally than it is in America.

X MEN: THE LAST STAND, grabbed the Number 1 position in the United States during Memorial Day Weekend, but, worldwide, THE DA VINCI CODE was still the most popular motion picture in the world.

And then there was THE BREAK-UP, the surprise Number 1 movie in America last weekend. Though still early in the season, it seems unlikely that any film will catch up to CODE's worldwide box office. CARS will most probably race into the Number 1 space this weekend. But, worldwide, it's unlikely that any film will outperform Dan Brown's metaphysical thriller.

Consequently, studios are scrambling to find the next blockbuster
The Break-Up rocked the Box Office

The Break-Up rocked the Box Office
mystery thriller.

Sony Pictures, whose Columbia division released THE DA VINCI CODE, believes it need look no further than a property the corporation already owns. It's none other than DA VINCI author Dan Brown's previous novel ANGELS & DEMONS.

Sony has already signed CODE screenwriter Akiva Goldsman to script ANGELS, Brown's first novel to feature the Robert Langdon character played by Tom Hanks in this summer's blockbuster. The studio is also asking CODE's producing team Brian Grazer and John Calley to do it again. Presumably director Ron Howard and star Tom Hanks will have first crack at doubling their pleasure by participating in ANGELS & DEMONS. But that remains to be seen.

Also a religious thriller, ANGELS & DEMONS is likely to be every bit as unpopular with the Roman Catholic Church as is THE DA VINCI CODE. In ANGELS, Robert Langdon tries to solve a murder and unravel a plot by an ancient group, the Illuminati, to blow up the Vatican during a papal conclave.

ANGELS & DEMONS is in the early stages of development with no budget or start date named. But it's a safe bet that the pic will spearhead Sony's summer box office season, probably in 2008, or 2009. The corporation purchased the rights to the novel in 2003 as part of THE DA VINCI CODE acquisition.

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Every other Friday

Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.

Other Columns
Other columns by Christopher Stone:

The Cautionary Box-Office

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up. Part Two

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up, Part 1

Quality Is Independent

Oh, the Horror!

All Columns

Christopher Stone
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.

He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christopher Stone by clicking here.

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