“Da Vinci” is very good, and it will probably be better with a second viewing, but it isn’t as great as the book. “Over The Hedge” has really bad songs for an animated film, but it is a great film otherwise that is a lot of fun!

Crowds, protests expected as “Da Vinci Code” opens
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Moviegoers, shrugging off a burst of negative reviews, were expected to flock to Friday’s opening of the religious thriller “The Da Vinci Code” as some Catholics vowed coast-to-coast protests against the film.
The upbeat commercial outlook for the movie, adapted from Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, hinged on advance ticket sales and an assumption that many of the more than 40 million people who bought the book are eager to see the film, regardless of what critics think.
Moreover, the film, directed by Ron Howard, has generated a level of publicity and media hype unseen since Mel Gibson’s blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ” arrived in theaters two years ago.
Industry experts predicted that, like the controversy Gibson stirred with his graphic depiction of Christ’s crucifixion in “The Passion,” the debate over “The Da Vinci Code” has only heightened interest in Howard’s film.
Opening in more than 3,700 U.S. theaters and about 8,700 overseas, “The Da Vinci Code” is expected to tower over its box-office competition, grossing $50 million to $80 million during its first weekend in the United States alone, according to industry analysts.
“The early matinees are very strong and extremely encouraging,” said Steve Elzer, a spokesman for distributor Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp.
The two biggest U.S. theater chains, Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment Inc., both reported brisk advance ticket sales, as did the movie ticketing service Fandango.
And Daily Variety reported “The Da Vinci Code” generated respectable business in a handful of overseas markets where it debuted earlier this week, including France and Australia.
“There’s just so much awareness and interest in this film,” Regal spokesman Dick Westerling told Reuters. “I think people want to go see it and make up their own minds what they think of the movie.”
The film was generally panned by critics at the Cannes film festival this week who said the picture was somewhat miscast and lacked the suspense and thrill of the book.
The movie stars Tom Hanks as a Harvard scholar who teams up with a French cryptologist (played by Audrey Tautou) to solve a murder mystery entwined in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and a supposed alternate history of Christianity.
A central premise of the story is that Jesus fathered a child by Mary Magdalene, and that a clandestine society has for centuries protected the identity of Christ’s living descendants from agents of the Christian Church.
The Vatican has labeled the story blasphemous and launched its own public relations offensive against the film.
A Catholic lay organization, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, took out full-page ads in USA Today calling for worshipers to stage prayer vigils outside at least 1,000 theaters nationwide on Friday.
“In all 50 states, we have organizers,” said Francis Slobodnik, who is coordinating the campaign for the Pennsylvania-based group and called the film “an insult directed toward God.”
Asked whether protests might backfire by helping to draw more attention to the film, Slobodnik said: “Go ask any businessman if they would like people with signs standing outside their of business, and they would say ‘no.’ We are generating publicity, but it is negative publicity.”
The biggest commercial challenge facing “The Da Vinci Code” this weekend comes from DreamWorks’ computer-animated wildlife-in-suburbia adventure “Over the Hedge,” which also opens on Friday.
According to Variety, “The Da Vinci Code” is accounting for more than 80 percent of Fandango’s advance ticket sales, compared with just 4 percent for “Hedge.”