What a revoltin’ development! Nikki Finke is reporting that Sony is paying $4 million to Akiva Goldsman to write what will technically be a sequel to The Da Vinci Code, the strangely popular adaptation on Dan Brown‘s best-seller that I saw once — once — at the Cannes Film Festival and will never, ever see again. Goldsman will be adapting Angels & Demons, which is actually a Da Vinci Code prequel. (“Robert Langdon’s first adventure!”) Brown, meanwhile, is now in the midst of writing an actual Da Vinci Code sequel, for which Goldman will presumably be paid $7.5 million adapt into screenplay form.
Finke says $4 million is an all-time high figure “for hiring a screenwriter.” Of course, Shane Black got paid $4 million in ’95 or thereabouts to write The Long Kiss Goodnight (or so says his Wikipedia bio), but then he wound up with a producer credit also so maybe that was partly the reason he was paid this. (I called Black’s agent Tom Strickler at Endeavor for specifics…zip.) Finke says Goldsman isn’t getting a producer credit on Angels & Demons — the fee is for “straight scribbling.”
The problem with Angels & Demons is where do the haters go with it emotionally? Everyone is hating it sight unseen now, but how do we top that when and if it goes to Cannes in ’08 or ’09? I foresee a big screening of Angels & Demons at the Grand Palais and 97% of the critics panning it, and Columbia marketing chief Valerie Van Galder saying to a journalist, “Gosh darn it all…you work your fingers to the bone and you do everything you can to give it the best Cannes launch that you can, and then the critics come along and just dump on it!”