I’m told Sony is looking for a Da Vinci Code domestic opening weekend of $60 million-$70 million from about 3,600 theaters May 19-21, and expects the first 11 days including Memorial Weekend to gross $125 million from U.S. moviegoers. The studio figures to end the summer with an overall worldwide haul of $500 million. (I’ve already reported that, in Italy, Mexico and Spain, Catholic Moviegoers Overseas Defy Vatican and Sell Out Da Vinci Code In Advance.) I’ve learned that one thing worrying Sony is that, since The Da Vinci Code is primarily an adult movie, some of those adults may be siphoned off not by falling MI3, or flailing Poseidon but by Paramount/Dreamworks’ counter-programming of its big animated flick Over the Hedge in 3,800 theaters that same weekend. (Mom and Dad gotta keep those kiddies entertained, right?) “If Over the Hedge performs as well as Dworks’ Madagascar did, we may have to rely more on overseas sales,” one Sony source fretted. Plus, 20th Century Fox’s X-Men 3 opens over Memorial Weekend, and that’s a proven franchise.
So what does this mean for Da Vinci Code? It’s still going to be a huge grosser, probably one with good enough legs to last the summer. Several showbiz reporters have ridiculously made comparisons to that other adult movie directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer (swap Russell Crowe for Tom Hanks) that debuted in the summer, Cinderella Man. Uh, I don’t recall a worldwide bestseller named Cinderella Man that put 40 million copies into people’s hands. Meanwhile, exhibitors saw the movie for the first time last week and, as expected, loved it. Much has been made of the fact that Sony has been holding back screenings, but big-city film critics get their crack at the movie Tuesday, and the all-press screening is Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Da Vinci Code‘s world premiere kicks off the 59th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 17. Sony plans an absurdly lavish international junket aboard a specially outfitted Eurostar train which will be rerouted from London’s Waterloo Station straight to Cannes (instead of Paris) for “old-fashioned Hollywood fun” to amuse the film people and the world press, sources gush and say each train car will be decorated like a different country to signify the different chapters of the book.
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