"Angels & Demons" fails to crack "Code"

Sun May 17, 2009 7:38pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Angels & Demons," the new movie based on Dan Brown's popular novel about conspiracy in the Catholic church, racked up $152 million in global ticket sales over the weekend, but failed to match the start of its predecessor "The Da Vinci Code."

Distributor Columbia Pictures said on Sunday the $150 million sequel earned about $48 million during its first three days of release in the United States and Canada, reaching No. 1 on box office charts and eclipsing last week's champ, "Star Trek," which slipped to No. 2 with $43 million.

Guided by the studio, box office pundits had expected "Angels" to open in the $40 million to $50 million range, and Columbia said it was thrilled with the result.

The sequel should pass $150 million in domestic ticket sales, said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution at the Sony Corp unit.

Still, the popular "Da Vinci Code" opened to $77 million in 2006 on its way to a domestic haul of $217.5 million.

"Angels" also earned $104.3 million from No. 1 starts in 96 countries, down from the $147 million start for "Da Vinci."

Inevitably, the new film failed to replicate the buzz of the first movie. "The Da Vinci Code," based on another best-selling book by Brown, generated a firestorm of criticism with its premise that Jesus impregnated Mary Magdalene and that church officials tried to keep their bloodline secret.

The Vatican -- along with most critics -- ripped the film, but took a more measured tone against its sequel. Columbia said the first book sold twice as many copies as the second one, a clear indication that the second movie would come up short.

"On the other hand, 'Angels' absolutely was a far more cinematic book than 'Da Vinci Code' was," said Bruer.   Continued...

<p>Actor Tom Hanks waves to photographers during the world premiere of the movie "Angels &amp; Demons" at the Auditorium in Rome, May 4, 2009. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico</p>