Da Vinci defies criticism

US studio box office estimates have Ron Howard’s latest cracking the weekend

What’s that sound you can hear? Why, it’s Ron Howard laughing all the way to the bank and warming his hands by a roaring fire built from negative reviews for The Da Vinci Code. The man formerly known as Richie Cunningham will be smiling this weekend as his adaptation of Dan Brown’s religio-conspiracy thriller had film critics snoozing but brought out the book-loving faithful by the thousands. According to the studio estimates, his latest collaboration with Tom Hanks scooped in $77 million in the US alone, which combines with international totals for a weekend of roughly $224 million. Not too shabby, and behind only last year’s Star Wars: Episode III as the second-biggest global opening ever. Peering once more into the Big Book Of Statistics Only Studio Heads And Trivia Hounds Really Worry About, its success makes the Code the 13th biggest domestic US opening ever.

Which meant that everyone else had to be content with what they could scavenge. The crazy critters of DreamWorks’ latest animated comedy Over The Hedge weren’t really able to compete, and failed to grab in Shrek-like opening figures. But the movie managed a respectable $37.2 million. It has two more weekends to earn its keep before a little piece of ‘toon competition drives up in the form of Pixar’s Cars.

Third was M:i:III, which continues to drop, but still managed to clamber past the $100 million mark thanks to an $11 million weekend. Poseidon sank to fourth with a 59% drop and a running Stateside total of $36.8 million. Don’t expect it to float in the charts for much longer. Fifth place went to Robin Williams’ RV, with the comedy taking $5.1 million and crossing the $50 million mark. Hardly stellar, but director Barry Sonnenfeld will be hoping it sells out on DVD – because it’s still got to make back that $65 million budget, not to mention advertising costs.

Lower in the charts – sixth place, to be exact – saw the launch of the World Wrestling Entertainment’s first real stab at horror (besides the notion of Hulk Hogan having his own reality show, that is). See No Evil, in which wrestler Glen Jacobs (AKA Kane) plays a psychotic killer. The movie made $4.35 million on its launch. Lindsay Lohan’s underperforming latest teen comedy, Just My Luck, meanwhile, had the smallest drop-off for a returning film. But then it’s only made $10.5 million so far.

At eight sat An American Haunting, which scared up $1.7 million this weekend, putting it ahead of ninth-placed United 93, which made $1.5 million. Finally, Akeelah And The Bee stuck it out at 10th. Looking like the little movie that could, Akeelah might not quite be a sleeper hit, but it’s holding on well for something that was expected to vanish from the charts given its low launch. Looks like the word of mouth counted for something, as the movie has made $16 million so far…