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Market in Da Mood for Da Vinci

17 Mar, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

Da Vinci Code mania is in full swing.

The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown last week defended his controversial book in court against a second round of plagiarism claims, and the Tom Hanks film version of the bestseller is scheduled to hit theaters May 19. The book comes to paperback May 28.

Meanwhile, video suppliers have plenty of related products to fuel the feeding frenzy.

Highland Entertainment March 14 released its third Da Vinci-related title, The Secret Life of Leonardo Da Vinci, distributed by Ventura.

“Right now, we have preorders from almost every major chain,” said Highland president David McKenzie. Other Highland Da Vinci Code-themed DVDs include Unlocking Da Vinci's Code: Mystery or Conspiracy? and a kind of Christian answer to the book, Exposing The Da Vinci Code. The documentaries attempt to unravel and often debunk questions posed by Brown's wildly popular novel — Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene? Did they have a child?

Another Highland Da Vinci-related production will bring a familiar face back to video with The Da Vinci Tour, streeting later this year. It features McKenzie's wife, Laura, traveling to and explaining the sites associated with the famous artist. She previously released 50 travel-related titles via Republic Pictures.

Koch Vision distributes the ABC News title Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci, a news-magazine investigation into the questions raised by Brown's book that originally aired November 2003.

Koch also is taking its previously released DVD Secrets of Angels, Demons & Masons — which ties in to Brown's first Robert Langdon-character novel, Angels & Demons — to the PBS crowd, timed to the theatrical release of The Da Vinci Code. PBS stations will air the two-part documentary in May. The doc explores the Illuminati, the main antagonist group in Brown's book, and serves as an expos? on the Masons, said Dan Gurlitz, GM of Koch Vision. “[With the new exposure], this DVD is going to soar again,” he said.

Highland also has an Angels & Demons-related title, Angels & Demons Revealed, released last March.

Timed to capitalize on all the hype, The Disinformation Company March 28 is releasing the three-disc boxed set Da Vinci Code: Totally Decoded ($39.99), which includes Da Vinci Code: Decoded, Origins of Da Vinci and Exploring The Da Vinci Code, as well as a special edition paperback of the like-named book Da Vinci Code Decoded.

The previously released titles have already sold more than 100,000 combined units at retail, according to the company. The book has sold 80,000 copies.

There's a ton of competing product out on DVD, but there's also a ton of opportunity to reach interested consumers, said Gary Baddeley, president of Disinformation.

“Say there are 40 million people or something who have already read the book,” Baddeley said. “There's potentially many more millions than that who will get into it based on the movie.”

They'll find the most comprehensive documentary collection in the Disinformation boxed set, he said.

Special features on the set include interviews with all the major players in the Da Vinci scholarly field, including Henry Lincoln and author Brown himself.

Da Vinci Code Decoded features original photography of locations heavily featured in the book and movie — The Louvre, Temple Church, Westminster Abbey, Rosslyn Chapel and Rennes-le-Ch?teau — all shot especially for this production.

Disinformation has a national ad campaign and a major Internet push planned to support the boxed set.

Other suppliers also have tied into the phenomenon.

A&E Home Video in June released Beyond The Da Vinci Code, a program featuring interviews with period experts who largely support Brown's Da Vinci themes.

Grizzly Adams Productions has Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Solves the 2,000-Year-Old Mystery, released last March.

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