Tom Hanks gets some better hair and a purportedly better movie, but the taint of The Da Vinci Code's quality still impacts the opening of Angels & Demons to a degree that it makes the race for first place a lot closer than it should have been.
Friday Box Office Analysis
By Kim Hollis
May 16, 2009
Angels & Demons
Angels & Demons, the prequel/follow-up to the highly profitable The Da Vinci Code, has significantly less power than its predecessor as it debuts with $16.6 million. Despite the fact that this is the second-highest opening day ever for both Hanks and director Ron Howard, this little tidbit loses some meaning when we realize that their highest opening day came with The Da Vinci Code, the first movie in the Robert Langdon franchise. Even though that film had a remarkable, $77.1 million opening weekend and finished with $217.5 million, most people were pretty unhappy with The Da Vinci Code's quality. It sits at only 24% fresh at RottenTomatoes, which is something you don't see very often in a movie that earns more than $200 million.
What did this mean for the opening of Angels & Demons? Basically, it made the prequel a complete wild card. Should expectations have been set high since this was a follow-up to a highly successful film? Or should they have been significantly lower since a lot of goodwill was lost when Howard & Co. under-delivered with the first movie, thereby alienating a large portion of the core audience? I tend to believe the answer lies somewhere in the middle A number of people (myself included) were indeed turned off by the prospect of a second film adapted from Dan Brown's novels, but that was probably mitigated slightly by the group of people who turned out that had really liked The Da Vinci Code when they saw it on DVD.
Either way, the result is probably going to be significantly less than Sony would have liked to see. Angels & Demons' $16.6 million is just a little better than half the first day of The Da Vinci Code, but I could envision a scenario where it could have been significantly worse. I'm guessing that if anyone less than Tom Hanks was in the lead role, we'd be looking at an out-and-out bomb here. As it is, if Angels & Demons follows a similar trajectory to The Da Vinci Code - a reasonable assumption - we're looking at a $44 million opening weekend, which isn't completely disastrous, but is probably not good relative to budget (which we're not privvy to at the moment). This is a movie that is going to have to make the majority of its money from DVD sales, rentals and overseas revenue.
This means that a door has been opened for Star Trek to try to take over the first place spot in the top ten this weekend. It's probably not quite close enough to get there, but it's definitely got to be making the suits at Sony sweat a little bit. If nothing else, they're likely to come back with an over-ambitious estimate to try to counter the reality that Star Trek is holding up quite well. If we look at the reported $30.9 Friday for Star Trek, it looks like it dropped a significant 62% from week-to-week; however, if we back out the $7 million it earned on Thursday, it looks closer to 50%. It will recover even a bit more as the weekend progresses, and we're probably looking at at three-day total of $39.7 million. This won't quite be enough to hold on to first place, but it sure does make things interesting.