Monday Morning Quarterback Part 1
By BOP Staff
May 22, 2006
No, we don't start with See No EvilKim Hollis: The Da Vinci Code is the biggest domestic opener of 2006 with an estimated $77 million. It also broke the record for international receipts with $147 million. Is this the most impressive performance of the year to date?
David Mumpower: Absolutely. A $30 million day is always a huge positive, and $224 million worldwide this quickly is astonishing. Only Episode III managed to make more money in the same time frame.
Joel Corcoran: Sure - I don't think anyone could rationally argue otherwise, at least if we're talking in terms of absolute numbers.
Reagen Sulewski: I'd say so, considering we're looking at a film based on a potboiler book that revolves around puzzle solving.
Kim Hollis: That's right, Reagen. How many modern-day book-based movies can claim this sort of success?
Joel Corcoran: In fact, I'm trying to find a negative aspect to Da Vinci Code's opening weekend, and I can't come up with anything. It had an exceptional opening that defied the conventional wisdom among film critics, it broke records in the international box office, and it kept Tom Cruise out of the headlines for a whole week. I can't really find any faults at all in the movie's performance so far.
David Mumpower: With regards to conventional wisdom among film critics, I would maintain this is simply the latest example proving that mainstream audiences don't care what movie critics think...particularly not ones hanging out at Cannes.
Joel Corcoran: I totally agree with that, David, if we're talking about the "devoted fanbase" audiences.
Unless you're a caveman recently unfrozen from ice, you've read The Da Vinci CodeReagen Sulewski: Somewhere, a studio exec is feverishly trying to come up with a pitch for Sudoku: The Movie.
David Mumpower: There is a lot of truth in that. The Da Vinci Code is one of the most talky, verbose movie releases since Clerks. It is basically a combination of history lesson and Rubik's Cube analysis.
Tim Briody: It was talky? That might explain its reviews.
Joel Corcoran: Like a movie based on a game could ever be a blockbuster...
Reagen Sulewski: I might look at things like Forrest Gump, but that wasn't particularly successful off the bat.
Tim Briody: See, that's my other point. It's a May release that doesn't feature stuff blowing up. That can't bode well for its legs.
Reagen Sulewski: If I'm Sony, I'm more than a little concerned that Saturday earned less than Friday. You typically don't see that outside of horror releases.
Tim Briody: Though you could argue that this is one of the movies with one of the largest built-in fanbases ever. A huge number of people were going to see this movie no matter what. From the book fanatics I know, it's about 50/50.
Kim Hollis: Adding to Tim's comment, apparently 88% of surveyed Fandango users who bought tickets for The Da Vinci Code on Friday had read the book.
Reagen Sulewski: Imagine if it had been based on a *good* book.
Tim is a caveman. We knew it!Tim Briody: I think I'm one of three people who have yet to read it.
David Mumpower: I read it and while I agree that the prose is atrocious, I found the book's ideas sublime. The movie, on the other hand, seemed to be an exercise in wrong decision-making...almost as if it were adapted to the big screen by a New York Mets GM.
Joel Corcoran: Then, David, I think the movie follows the book perfectly in that respect.
Kim Hollis: The movie is also boring. That would explain the reviews as well.
Joel Corcoran: Coupled with Reagen's point about the drop in box office from Friday to Saturday, that is a big concern, Kim. I don't see fans of The Da Vinci Code running off to see this movie several times during its run (like fans of Star Wars, Star Trek, or Harry Potter).
Kim Hollis: Particularly because it's *boring*.
This is the same guy who gave Batman's costume nipplesDavid Mumpower: Sadly, I have to agree that the reviews are on target. The movie itself is a misfire from a quality perspective, enough to remind me how much everyone used to make fun of Akiva Goldsman.
Kim Hollis: "Oh, right. Akiva Goldsman wrote Batman and Robin. How stupid of us to hire him again."
David Mumpower: And Lost in Space.
Reagen Sulewski: How he could win an Oscar for writing is mysterious enough to serve as the plot for the sequel.
Tim Briody: From my understanding of the literary criticisms of the book, it practically written in screenplay form.
David Mumpower: That's exactly why it is so amazing, Tim. Akiva the Hack took an extended screenplay and sucked all of the marrow out of its bones, leaving a dried out husk of gibberish.
Joel Corcoran: I think Bob Mondello (film critic for NPR) nailed it when he wrote: "The plot plays less mysteriously on screen than on the page, partly because two and a half hours of earnest conversations about anagrams, even when they're conducted in cars racing backwards across Paris are still just two and a half hours of earnest conversations about anagrams." That pretty much sums up the book and the movie.
Kim Hollis: The book did read like a screenplay, but decisions were definitely made that were counter to the original story. For example, the Audrey Tautou character is smart and important in the book. Tautou's character in the movie is nothing more than window dressing and a big dummy to boot.
Tim Briody: Okay, that answers my question of how you take a boring book and not make a boring movie out of it.
David Mumpower: As great as the cast is as a whole, all of them save Reno and McKellen seem wildly miscast. Hanks in particular just does not work in the role. It's a very frustrating movie to watch for this reason.
Joel Corcoran: Actually, I disagree - I think Hanks was perfect for this role. His hair, however, was not.