'Code' Makes Gains, Still Trails 'Passion'

Some observers of the The Da Vinci Code’s box office standing are asserting it has passed The Passion of the Christ in worldwide ticket sales.

As reported here earlier, The Passion of the Christ trumped The Da Vinci Code in U.S. sales at Week 1, 2 and 3.

As of the start of Week 4, the gap in U.S. ticket sales for The Passion of the Christ vs. The Da Vinci Code — comparing sales on Day 22 — was $273,311,000 vs. $189,171,331.

Finally, if you analyze the internals — the trend in terms of dwindling numbers of people making the effort here in the states to trek to the movie theaters to see The Code — it’s clear it’s on its way out.

It’s useful, too, to compare The Da Vinci Code with Gone with the Wind, also based on a runaway best-selling novel, which, when adjusted for inflation, is the top-grossing film of all time. In 1939, Victor Flemming’s cinematic recreation of this Southern epic grossed $198,676,459 million but, at 50 cents per ticket, that equates to 398 million people who turned out to see the film in the US alone.

By contrast, when you calculate how many people have actually seen The Da Vinci Code in the U.S. by dividing the gross by the 2006 average ticket price of $6.40, it is revealed that less than 30 million individuals in the United States have plunked down their hard-earned money to see the film.

Quite obviously The Code has a long way to go to fulfill the promise of its best-selling novel status.

But, worldwide, it appears to making some headway. According to IMDb, as of Friday, June 9, The Code’s worldwide gross, including U.S. sales, was $599,171,331, putting it within striking distance of The Passion’s worldwide gross, which IMDb records as $604,370,943.

If, again, you calculate how many people have actually seen the film — not just the gross number of the respective currency — worldwide less than 100 million souls have seen The Da Vinci Code, which falls woefully short of the promise such a breakaway best seller should hold.

Also, considering that China just yanked the film on June 9, out of respect for its Catholic population, it’s a good bet the world may be wearying of The Code’s blasphemy.

But, some might argue, the main comparison in the two previous articles was between The Passion and The Code. And, after all, the Bible is a best-seller, too.

OK, but let’s be fair and factor in the $203,651,032 in theatrical rentals for The Passion in the U.S. alone — screenings for church groups nationwide, who, rather than seeing the film two by two, preferred to go pew by pew to their own private screenings. By this count, the actual gross for The Passion of the Christ is $575 million, or some 100 million souls in the U.S. alone, who were moved by the real love of the real Christ. And, isn’t underlying, essential truth — not money — after all the ultimate measure of any film?