'The Da Vinci Code': Mea culpa (sort of)

So, remember back when I said The Da Vinci Code would flop? It’s time for me to eat some Da Vinci crow… right?

Sure looks that way. But a) looks can be deceiving and b) I am stubborn. First off, a few "definition-of-is" legalisms: I never said it would flop. The headline of my entry said it would flop, and I didn’t write the headline. (Though I did acquiesce to it because it was "grabby.") But in my actual entry, I said it would be "the box-office disappointment of the summer." And I still think that’s true.

Yes, even with $77 million domestic and another $147 foreign since last Wednesday. Yes, even though it cost a "bargain" $125 million and has already turned a nominal profit (though who knows what was spent on promotion and advertising this time around). I’m sticking to my guns: It’s not going to meet expectations.

The marketing push more or less guaranteed a massive opening. But the word-of-mouth on this film is awful. What will this mean for next weekend? All the young and young-at-hearts will be flocking to X3,  meaning Da Vinci will probably live or die by older audiences. And older audiences are less suspectible to movie marketing, more likely to listen to their friends and neighbors. And friends and neighbors are likely telling them it’s a dull slog.

Sour grapes over a dud prediction? Quite possibly. I’m just saying, give my theory another two weeks and see if this one Hulks out on us. If it’s still doing bang-up business… well then, yes, Fat Jimmy, you may go right ahead and break my fingers.

Oh, and as for X3? The reviews are crap. Which, as we’ve seen, more or less guarantees a gigantic opening weekend. So those who loathe that film’s director, you have mere days to celebrate your victory — come Friday, The Ratner will bestride the world like a Colossus. Not that I’m making any predictions…

(Blogfather’s note: Mea culpa too. I wrote the headline.)


Comments (32 total) Add your comment
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  • Mark

    You should shut your mouth while you’re behind.

  • Cliff

    Ebert and Roepper gave X3 two thumbs up. They’re by far the highest-profile movie critics in the country, so “the reviews are crap” isn’t an accurate statement.

  • Albert

    Acquiese! Acquiese! Slezak, you got it wrong big time. Huge opening weekend despite the reviews, foreign and domestic because of the built-in audience and the level of credibility that Hanks and Howard have. We Popwatchers have commented and predicted it. We told you so!

  • Alexa

    Actually, Cliff, I believe Scott was referring to legitimate critics who don’t whore themselves out to promotional campaigns. (Ouch – that was really, really low :P) Take it from someone at the source (typing from a computer in Cannes, as we speak!), X3 is a big disappointment here. All the trades have given it lukewarm, if not downright negative reviews. And Variety tends to be right about these things.
    And considering how Ratner salivated all over Ebert at a director’s panel yesterday, I’m not surprised it got the thumbs up. But, a disclaimer, I actually think Ebert is a fab journalist who asks really great questions (his banter with the directors was great). I just think he applies his positive blurbs to far too many mediocre movies.
    But let’s not talk about X3 and Da Vinci… the really juicy story is Southland Tales. Now THAT’S a crap movie. :D

  • Jordan Gray

    X3 is at a positive rating currently on the tomato-meter, and that doesn’t include Ebert and Roepers positive reviews. Do your homework.

  • Chris

    The word of mouth on The Davinci code is not awful. Most of us normal plebs liked the film and enjoyed it for what it was, a smart thriller. Not many films of that type get made. That’s the funny thing about most critics, they complain that movies are dumbed down and when someone makes a smart film, they still proceed to take a dump on it and act superior to it. It seems like most critics succummed to a pack mentality on this film and all looked to out do each other in their pans of the movie. It reeks of professional jealousy towards Dan Brown, who many feel is a hack writer, in him selling 60 million books.
    This is why the public feels critics are out of touch.
    The diss on X3 was wrong too, I’ve only seen good reviews so far.

  • Hugo

    Actually, I was talking to a couple of the high schoolers in my neighborhood who saw the movie, and they really liked it, so don’t count out word of mouth on that demographic. Every other person I talked to this weekend said that they were waiting for next weekend because it would be too crowded opening weekend.

  • Alexa

    … but the Tomato-meter only has five reviews on it. Only two are from reputable sources. Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Screen went more negative… but we’ll have to wait until the end of the week to read the national reviews. And, really, the main criticism critics are leveling against X3 is that the first two were more complex, and less slapdash jobs (Ratner has some sloppy plotlines, and the movie is 20 minutes shorter than the last one). So it’s comparatively negative, not “OMG, worst movie EVER!”. But I’m going to see it anyway, and so will millions of others. Word is, though, that X2 was better.
    And I don’t think the critics’ problem with Da Vinci is that we’re jealous of Dan Brown. The problem is that Ron Howard made a boring movie out of an exciting thriller. But I agree with Scott: Da Vinci will under perform, especially relative to its massive marketing campaign, and it will further damage Sony’s recent reputation, after Geisha and Rent were such flops.

  • Scott

    First it was MI3 which critics jumped on saying it didn’t perform as well as it should have, yet it is still holding steady with $100 million over three weeks. Now critics are saying that Da Vinci will “underperform”? Perhaps only in relation to some overly high expections. $77 million is a pretty great opening for only three days and the worldwide box office was only the second largest ever. Sounds like the movie is doing a pretty fine job.
    As far as bad word of mouth goes, you must only be speaking of personal experience because I saw it on Friday and thought it was quite entertaining for what it was (yes, it differed from the book a little, but, what adaptation doesn’t) and I have been telling everyone I talked to over the weekend to ignore the reviews and go see it. I think there is just a bit of sour grapes with Mr. Brown because whether or not you wrote the headline or not, you agreed to it and knew the intent of your prediction. Now that it hasn’t come to pass, rather than eating your words, it seems like you’re just back peddling.

  • Nick

    The Critics are taking the punch on this one, I saw “The Da Vinci Code” yesterday and really enjoyed it. I have not read the book, but I knew about it. Here in the office this morning everyone who saw it really enjoyed it. Sometimes critics are too critical, we are suppose to go to the movies and be entertained, so congrats to Da Vinci, I say to the people, go see it!

  • Kat

    Remember books? I know they aren’t suppose to count for much, but a lot of people liked this book. And a good number of them are going to go to this movie, and then later rent or buy the DVD. Even those who didn’t like the book much, like myself, are going to be curious. X3 will probably take a good chunk of the audience, true, but that happens every summer with each successive tentpole film. Da Vinci may not make many new records, but it’s not going to be a disappointment. Neither is X3.

  • donner

    in the words of Mike Wallace – “c’mon!”…Scott, you sound pouty and pathetic…your prediction was way off and you can’t even admit it? Step up, be a man…MI3 would have loved a $77 mil weekend – a $48 mil opening for it was horrendous…a $224 world wide opening for DVC is awesome and you can’t admit it? boo on you…

  • sam

    Word of mouth is not awful. Everybody that I know who saw it this weekend (including me) enjoyed it and is recommending it to friends. Come on, it can’t be a disappointment even if the business decreases in later weeks–it is a record setter! Why not just admit that you went for the “shock” prediction and you were wrong? You certainly would have claimed to be a prophet if you had been right.

  • angela

    I read the book and saw the movie. The movie was not bad, in spite of all the criticisms…it was essentially identical to the book. If there was a moment when people giggled or gaffawed like in Cannes (though not in the crowd I saw it with), it was because the movie has one or two hokey scenes in it, but so does the book! I actually thought Ron Howard did a good job of sequencing a complicated story, and eliminating some of the hokem.

  • Ryan

    Word of mouth is bad? You are so wrong. The critic’s word of mouth is bad. Not regular people. You work for EW so you’re skewed in your opinion. You don’t live in the real world. You are surrounded by mediocre critic’s, not Owen, but Lisa (the worst critic of all time)

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