LOS ANGELES (Reuters)All the protests and all the bad reviews could not prevent “The Da Vinci Code” from recording a $224 million worldwide opening, the second-biggest debut ever at the global box office, its distributor said on Sunday.

The controversial adaptation of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, the story of a Vatican cover-up involving Jesus Christ and his supposed offspring, sold about $77 million worth of tickets at movie theaters in the United States and Canada during its first three days, according to Columbia Pictures.

Box-office watchers had predicted a North American opening of between $50 million and $80 million for the most eagerly awaited movie of the year.

The biggest North American opening this year had been $68 million for “Ice Age: The Meltdown” seven weeks ago. But “The Da Vinci Code” numbers were still far from the $115 million record held by 2002’s “Spider-Man.”

“The Da Vinci Code” earned about $147 million overseas, the biggest international opening ever. The previous record was last year’s “Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” with $145 million, Columbia said.

The total haul of $224 million ranks No. 2 behind the $253 million tally for the “Star Wars” movie, the studio said.

Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp., released the $125 million film in 90 foreign markets, following its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday.

The strong sales came despite — or because of — an onslaught of protests and publicity not seen since another religious movie, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” earned $84 million domestically during its first weekend in February 2004. It grossed $612 million worldwide.


Wow.

90 foreign markets??!!!

The power of certain film marketing/distribution tactics.

The power of this topic.

Amazing.

And it’s such a mildly deep book, even the word “deep” is inappropriate for how superficial it is.

In any event, super hype or no super hype, I refuse to pay money to go see it. Simply. Refuse.


And a related comment on ACE made me remember this author and book:

Elaine Pagels is a preeminent figure in the theological community whose impressive scholarship has earned her international respect. The Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University, Pagels was awarded the Rockefeller, Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships in three consecutive years.

As a young researcher at Barnard College, she changed forever the historical landscape of the Christian religion by exploding the myth of the early Christian Church as a unified movement.

Her findings were published in the bestselling book, The Gnostic Gospels, an analysis of 52 early Christian manuscripts that were unearthed in Egypt. Known collectively as the Nag Hammadi Library, the manuscripts show the pluralistic nature of the early church and the role of women in the developing Christian movement. As the early church moved toward becoming an orthodox body with a canon, rites and clergy, the Nag Hammadi manuscripts were suppressed and deemed heretical.

The Gnostic Gospels won both the National Book Critic’s Circle Award and the National Book Award and was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best books of the 20th Century.

In her most recent New York Times bestseller, Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas, Pagels focuses on religious claims to possessing the ultimate “truth.” She contends that, as Christianity became increasingly institutionalized, it became more politicized and less pluralistic. Says Pagels, “I’m advocating, on some level, the inclusion of [religious texts] that were considered blasphemous. I suggest that there are ways of embracing a far wider spectrum of religious diversity within Christianity and quite beyond Christianity.”

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The Da Vinci Code – 25 millions of this? – Updated April 13 ; Eco and the demise of Western civilization; Harry Potter – 270 MILLION books sold! – UPDATED JUL 20.

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