The Da Vinci Code made $758 million worldwide. The sequel, Angels & Demons, earned a reduced (yet still very impressive) $485 million. Naturally, Sony is going for the hat trick, and hired Steven Knight last year to adapt The Lost Symbol, the third book in the Robert Langdon series. Last we checked, series author Dan Brown started work on a rewrite, though neither franchise star Tom Hanks nor director Ron Howard were confirmed to return. Howard, at least, never will be — he may produce, but has decided not to direct The Lost Symbol. Details after the jump.
Dan Brown has taken over the reins for the screen adaptation of The Lost Symbol, the third novel in his wildly profitable and embarrassingly controversial series about Harvard symbologist-turned-Indiana Jones wannabe Robert Langdon, following The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. This is Brown’s first attempt at screenwriting after Oscar-nominated scribe Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) had first swing at the project.
Neither franchise star Tom Hanks nor Ron Howard, director of the previous installments, has officially signed on to the sequel, although Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment will again handle production duties. Howard is currently committed to helm the first flick in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, while Hanks is confirmed for Kathryn Bigelow’s (The Hurt Locker) post-Best Picture endeavor Triple Frontier. If both talents are expected to return, Risky Business suggests we can expect The Lost Symbol on the silver screen in the summer of 2013. Hit the jump for the official synopsis of The Lost Symbol.
With Avatar the reigning champ and Sherlock Holmes still to come, Hollywood crossed the $10 billion line for the first time in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales for 2009. Through Sunday, the total stood just $36 million short of crossing the $10 billion line, according to tracking firm Hollywood Box Office, and was set to plow across it Tuesday night.
The year’s top box office attractions were Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and with hits like Harry Potter and The Hangover, Warner Bros. was the North American box office champ among studios. And with both Robert Downey Jr.’s take on Sherlock Holmes and the return of those rascally rodents in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel coming in time for Christmas, the final take is expected to top $10.4 billion.
Hit the jump for a list of the top 20 domestic box office hits of 2009.
One of the rules in the mystery thriller genre is that if you want to find your suspect for the killings, it’s probably not the obvious answer. One should be suspicious of the nice, the genteel, the physical unthreatening, and often the sexual repressed/fey types. If the idea is surprising your audience, the person in the first act cutting the brushes will probably not be the killer, unless he never shows up again, and the camera lingers (the Hunt for Red October rule). As mystery/thrillers go, Angels & Demons is perfectly competent, but never much more, and the person most likely to be the ringleader is evident if the rules above are paid attention to. My review of the Angels and Demons Blu-ray after the jump.
I never held out much hope for “Angels & Demons” because I never saw anything to make me hopeful. It was a spin-off created by the success of “The Da Vinci Code” and because there was another Robert Langdon book available, it made financial sense. But the book, “Angels & Demons” is awful and reads like a first-draft of “The Da Vinci Code” by having the same dull protagonist accompanied by stock characters, a plot based on pseudo-art and religious history, and a treasure hunt based on clues derived from quasi-to-non factual histories of various artworks, buildings, people, etc. The antagonist is a self-loathing toolbag of some greater big bad who appears to be noble but is actually a self-righteous ass-hat whose masterplan requires people acting in just the right way at just the right time or else his entire scheme would fail entirely.
In short, Dan Brown is a bad writer. Ron Howard and screenwriters Akiva Goldsman and David Koepp may be worse for not recognizing how bad. As I said, I understand the financial sense of making “Angels & Demons” but why remain so faithful to Brown’s awful book instead of just taking the best parts and then crafting a new story around it? But that would require work and imagination and I certainly don’t expect that from Howard or Goldsman. And since I knew that they wouldn’t put any effort into improving the story, I held out little hope for this sequel (yes, the book is a prequel but the movie is a sequel).
This time the plot revolves around some stolen anti-matter from CERN’s Large Hardon Collider (our site should really talk to them and see if we can do some cross-branding) and a threat to use that anti-matter to blow up the Vatican during Conclave (the election of a new Pope for our non-Catholic readers, myself among them). The threat comes from the Illuminati, scientists driven underground during the 17th century who are now going to make the Vatican pay! By killing thousands of innocent people! Suck it, Vatican.