THE CONTROVERSY Hewing close to Dan Brown's mega-selling novel, the movie tells the story of two globetrotting scholars (played by Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou, shown) who unearth a 2,000-year-old secret about the life of Christ, a secret that the Catholic Church (and one murderous monk in particular) would go to any length to conceal. Director Ron Howard resisted pleas from Catholic groups to end the movie with a prominent disclaimer saying that the story was purely fictional.
THE FIRESTORM Before the film's release, Sony cannily co-opted dissenting views by launching a website where theologians, historians, and other Da Vinci debunkers could post essays, a move that generally pre-empted American Christian leaders from calling for boycotts and encouraged them instead to use the film as a discussion-starter and even a recruitment tool. Overseas, however, the Vatican denounced the film, and Catholics and censor boards in several countries called for boycotts, cuts, or outright bans of the movie.
THE AFTERMATH Despite the worldwide attempts to squelch the film, its status as an international blockbuster seemed all-but-preordained, thanks to tens of millions of Brown fans the world over. But could Hanks' hairstylist please do something about that greasy mullet next time around?