"Angels" seen missing "Da Vinci" box office mark

Thu May 14, 2009 7:10pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Angels & Demons," the film sequel to conspiracy thriller "The Da Vinci Code," will likely fall short of box office totals for its more religiously controversial predecessor when it opens on Friday.

Director Ron Howard's "Angels & Demons," starring Tom Hanks as symbology expert Robert Langdon, should make over $40 million this weekend while 2006's Da Vinci Code made $77 million at U.S. and Canada box offices, industry watchers say.

Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com Box Office said Angels lacks the buzz of its predecessor.

"It just doesn't have that cultural zeitgeist to it, because 'The Da Vinci Code' was a phenomenon, a worldwide phenomenon based on the Dan Brown book," he said.

Angels is also based on a novel from Brown, whose Da Vinci Code upset the Vatican for its storyline that Jesus impregnated Mary Magdalene, and church officials tried to keep their bloodline secret.

While the Vatican criticized the earlier film before it opened three years ago, it has taken a more measured tone against its sequel.

"The Vatican has finally learned that when you condemn a movie you encourage people to see it," said Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

Da Vinci made $758 million at worldwide box offices, and was especially popular internationally, with $541 million coming from audiences outside the U.S. and Canada.   Continued...

<p>Actor Tom Hanks gives interviews as he arrives at the world premiere of the movie "Angels &amp; Demons" at the Auditorium in Rome May 4, 2009. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico</p>