In one of the most no-brainer moves in recent cinema, Sony Pictures has announced it is developing author Dan Brown's "Angels & Demons" into a movie after this past weekend's film version of his "The Da Vinci Code" achieved huge international success at the box-office despite a critical drubbing.
The studio has hired "Da Vinci" scribe Akiva Goldsman to adapt the novel, Brown's third and the first of two books featuring protagonist Robert Langdon, and plans to involve the same parties from "Da Vinci" where possible. Whilst producer Brian Grazer seems set to return, the involvement of Director Ron Howard and Tom Hanks seems uncertain for now though both would have first option on the project. Released in 200, the story follows Harvard symbologist Langdon in another adventure - this time set primarily in Rome and rather than the bloodline of Christ, it explores the Catholic Church's attempts to stifle men of science during the time of the inquisition. When one of his old friends, an Italian physicist, is discovered dead and branded with the seal of the long thought extinct Illuminati society, he teams with the victim's daughter Vittoria to recover their life's work - a quantity of anti-matter that has been stolen. Their investigation leads them to Rome where the world's media has converged in anticipation of the election of a new Pope. The Vatican conclave has just got underway in St. Peter's Basilica, however the four favourite candidates to be elected to the position are missing. The chase soon begins with Langdon, Vittoria and the Vatican guard racing around trying to discover a secret ancient pathway that criss-crosses the city laid out by Galileo himself. Its a pathway of heralding death tonight as an assassin, who has kidnapped the four Papal cardinals, begins horrifically executing them one by one every hour. His campaign of terror will end at midnight when the stolen antimatter, a sufficient enough charge to level several square blocks is detonated somewhere in the vastness of Vatican city - effectively destroying the centre of Catholic faith in one swoop. Can they find stop him and the bomb before its too late?
Does this story sound familiar? Brown's books, like Bond films or superhero/comic book film adaptations, are all essentially variations on the same story with many similar characters following formulaic trends. No less than eleven distinct similarities exist between 'Da Vinci' and 'Angels', including characters and twist/revelations.
Nevertheless "Angels & Demons", whilst not as deeply researched or rich in theme as "Da Vinci", has often been labelled far more Hollywood friendly with its faster pacing and more streamlined and engaging narrative that's more reliant on action than long moments of exposition and backstory. Whilst it hasn't been as big a seller as "Da Vinci", it has consistently placed in 'Top Ten books sold' lists for several years now.
The film adaptation is still in early stages though with a likely release not til most likely May 2009 unless its fast tracked.