Is Sony Studios trying to buy the Christian community’s support by hiring a publicity firm to promote its upcoming church conspiracy thriller ,“The Da Vinci Code,” to the religiously-inclined masses? That’s the question being heatedly debated by those in and out of the Christian community after the launch of a new website, The Da Vinci Dialogue. Sony has spent a significant amount of money (some reports have said $2 million dollars) to develop this site in conjunction with a company that specializes in marketing mainstream films to the church community.
The Da Vinci Dialogue website, which features a variety of essays examining the controversial religious issues surrounding the story, supposedly grew out of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s desire “to respect those concerns by providing a forum where a wide variety of respected religious scholars could discuss some of the serious questions the movie may raise.” However, the site has not only received criticism from newspapers such as UCLA’s “Daily Bruin”–which called it nothing more than a publicity stunt–but also from well respected Christians within the Hollywood community who feel little productive dialogue can come from debating “Da Vinci.”
The most interesting response may have come from Barbara Nicolosi, a former nun who runs Act One, a group that trains Christians to work in Hollywood. On her blog and here on Beliefnet, you can read her well-worded rant on the subject of the Da Vinci Dialogue website–and her idea for a counter-response to the movie. She, along with other Hollywood insiders, are calling for Christians to bypass “Da Vinci” and instead go see another film that opens the same weekend–the animated picture “Over The Hedge.”
Trying to convince thousands of people to go see a movie based on a comic strip as a response to one that claims “everything our fathers told us about Christ is false”? I think that will stir up about as much of a reaction from Hollywood as the Da Vinci Dialogue website will stir up thought-provoking discussion among Christians. Which is to say, very little. I am quite skeptical of either approach as a productive reaction, even though I do believe the Da Vinci Dialogue site is well crafted and informative. I wish Sony would have taken a page from the marketing for “Chronicles of Narnia” and done something like the “Narnia On Tour” promotion, in which scholars did face-to-face dialogue with fans at various universites across the country. Now that might bring about some substantial and enlightening discussion worthy of all of this dissent.