If Ron Howard were ever to bump into William Donohue, president of the Catholic organization that has railed against Howard’s Robert Langdon films for being anti-Catholic, I hope the director will have the grace to say… “Thank you.” Back in 2006, Donohue and his Catholic League spearheaded the protests against the cinematic adaptation of author Dan Brown’s conspiracy thriller The Da Vinci Code. The Tom Hanks-starring film went on to gross only $758 million worldwide. Every film should be so contested.
Maybe that’s what Howard had in mind when he penned a provocative essay for yesterday’s Huffington Post, defending himself and his upcoming sequel, Angels & Demons, against charges of anti-Catholicism. Though Donohue had recently criticized the film, the hubbub and response was relatively muted compared to 2006’s fracas. Similarly, it appeared as if Angels & Demons might just slip quietly into theaters unmolested. No more. Within hours, Donohue responded to Howard’s essay with a statement, calling Howard “delusional” and accusing him of “hating Catholicism.” And now we suddenly find the Web abuzz with discussion of Howard’s upcoming film.
Well played, Mr. Howard. Donahue might be your biggest critic, but he’s also your greatest publicity tool.
Do you think the Catholic League will have any impact on the success of Angels & Demons this time around? Do you think Howard really felt compelled to defend himself in The Huffington Post, or was his essay part of a grander strategy to promote his film, by any means necessary?