Joshua Rich's weekend wrap-up: ''The Da Vinci Code'' not only enjoys the biggest opening of 2006, it also sets an overseas record

By Joshua Rich
May 21, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

My God! The Da Vinci Code opened with a blessed $77 million this weekend, easily taking the top spot at the box office, according to Sunday’s estimates. Now, that’s big news for sure — and I’ll get to all the fun details in a moment.

But first, a little horn-tootage. Which movie-money savant successfully cracked The Box Office Code, closely predicting not only TDVC‘s bow but the performances of every other major movie at the multiplex this weekend? That’s right: You’re readin’ him. On Friday, I said TDVC would earn $71 mil at No. 1, and it earned $77 mil at No. 1. I said Over the Hedge would make $35 mil at No. 2, and it made $37.2 mil at No. 2. I said Mission: Impossible III would bring in $14 mil at No. 3, and it brought in $11 mil at No. 3. I said that Poseidon would sink even deeper with $9 mil at No. 4, and it sunk even deeper with $9.2 mil at No. 4. And I said See No Evil would wind up way down the rankings with $6 mil, and it wound up at No. 6 with $4.4 mil. Hallelujah! Man, they don’t pay me enough! Just in case you’re wondering, I also see Bernardini winning the Belmont Stakes in a few weeks (poor Barbaro!), I see the Democrats retaking the House and Senate in November, and I see yet another completely boring dude winning Survivor in the fall. Hey — does anybody know where I can bronze my crystal ball?

Okay, back to Tom Hanks, whose movie withstood unholy reviews from critics (it got an astoundingly low 18 percent ”fresh” rating on and even tepid reactions from audiences (it landed a so-so B+ rating, according to viewer tracker CinemaScore) to enjoy the biggest bow of 2006. My good buddy John at box office tracking firm Nielsen EDI confirms that TDVC‘s $77 mil is the by far the best debut of Hanks’ career — ditto for director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer, and nearly everybody else involved. It averaged a huge $20,616 per screen. It enjoyed the 13th top opening ever domestically, and, according to the wise guys over at Variety, it is now the all-time leader for overseas openings, with $147 mil. Might be time for Sony to start considering a sequel, don’t you think? Maybe I’ll show them my spec script for The Michelangelo Code, which finds Bobby Langdon running around Florence, searching for the hidden meaning of The Encyclopaedia Britannica through clues written in invisible ink under the left buttock of the David.

The animated kiddie flick Over the Hedge got lost in the shuffle, despite a solid-A Cinema Score rating. Its $37.2 mil premiere is in line with those of earlier movies like Robots and Dinosaur, but it’s a ways off from the $47.2 mil earned by Madagascar almost a year ago. I’ve gotta think that OTH was hurt by its counterprogramming position; certainly it would have earned more if it had opened on just about any other Friday. But what do I know? M:I-3 became Tom Cruise’s seventh consecutive $100 mil earner; 12 of the Great Shrink Hater’s last 14 movies have made more than $100 mil. But that’ll be the end of the good news for it and Poseidon, which, at a water-logged $36.8 mil, has already clinched comparisons to last summer’s stinker, Stealth. Ouch! Each movie plummeted more than 55 percent and both are sure to be a distant memory after X-Men: The Last Stand comes out next week. RV closed out the top five, continuing its long trip around theaters, adding $5.1 mil to its odometer. And while See No Evil‘s $4.4 mil debut is nothing for star Kane or first-time producer WWE Films to boast to Mean Gene Okerlund about, it is pretty impressive for director Gregory Dark, a former porn filmmaker. I mean, I doubt any of his other movies earned $4.4 mil in one weekend in theaters — not even classics like Sex Freaks, Hootermania, and Let Me Tell Ya ‘Bout Black Chicks.