The Publicist

Upcoming 'Da Vinci Code' film adds fuel to spirited PR battle

Upcoming 'Da Vinci Code' film adds fuel to spirited PR battle

To celebrate wrapping a nearly five-month project, I took an impulsive weekend trip to Paris. Ah, Paris...the architecture, the boulevards, the prices. Went through a week's salary...before dinner. No trip to gay Paree would be complete without visiting t

The painting is red hot right now because of The Da Vinci Code, the bestselling novel which has sold, I dunno, a trillion copies. It's about to be made into a feature film starring Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard, so I was curious to take a good look around to guess some possible shooting locations. There are plenty. It's a spectacular place to film. Beautiful backdrops, lots of labyrinths, and nooks and crannies. Very mysterious. That the museum is allowing shooting on the premises illustrates the book's impact on pop culture. Who doesn't love a good conspiracy? The Catholic Church, that's who.

A Church official went on a rare PR offensive recently to denounce the book and encourage good Catholics to avoid it and the film. I'm sort of a one-time Catholic myself, but surely not a good one, so I read it as soon as it came out. Somewhat poorly written, but what a yarn! Until the early 1960s, the Church used to regularly issue lists of banned books, until someone realized it only encouraged people to read them. Publicists know that nothing is able to generate attention as quickly as denouncing something.

The author, Dan Brown, and the publisher shot back a PR salvo of their own, reminding everyone that's it's a novel, not a historical treatise, and that the whole thing is just in good fun. The movie starts shooting this spring. It'll be huge. Savvy tour operators are already arranging tours around Paris, and that's only the beginning. If the movie is done right - and with Hanks and Howard it likely will be - it can be one of those rare movies that cleans up at the box-office and the Oscars.

It will undoubtedly spawn a sequel, which Brown is already writing. It's about Dick Cheney's secret extraterrestrial existence revealed in the subtext of another masterpiece, Dogs Playing Poker.

  • Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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