‘Angels and Demons’ takes flight

'Da Vinci' sequel aims to beat 'Star Trek'

Sony’s Tom Hanks sequel “Angels and Demons” hopes for wings powerful enough to fly on its own merit when opening today in theaters around the world.

The Ron Howard-directed pic, going out in 3,525 theaters domestically, debuts almost three years to the day that “The Da Vinci Code” launched.

Also directed by Howard and based on Dan Brown’s global bestseller, “Da Vinci” opened to $77.1 million domestically and $155 million internationally.

It went on to make $217.5 million domestically and $540.7 million overseas, where it showed particularly impressive traction, generating more than 71% of its staggering $758.2 million worldwide cume.

“Angels’ ” international launch is at saturation level in most markets with 10,463 playdates, even though that doesn’t include Mexico (which opens next week), India (with a May 29 debut) and China (which hasn’t been dated yet). “Da Vinci” opened at more than 12,200 venues internationally.

Sony’s job this time is to keep expectations in check. “Angels” is by far the better reviewed of the two films, although Brown’s novel “Angels and Demons” isn’t as well known as “Da Vinci.”

Nor has “Angels” come under the same sort of criticism from the Vatican and Catholic groups that propelled “Da Vinci” to worldwide notoriety.

Brown’s “Angels” was a prequel to “Da Vinci,” but Sony is calling the film — which stars Hanks in the recurring lead role — a sequel.

Box office observers, as well as Sony, don’t expect “Angels” to match “Da Vinci’s” boffo worldwide opening, but say the film will still do well. Domestically, conservative estimates show the sequel coming in at between $40 million and $50 million.

That should give the film enough room to come in No. 1, ahead of Paramount’s “Star Trek.”

“Star Trek” opened to $79.2 million last weekend at the domestic B.O., and has seen excellent weekday business, grossing $7.5 million on Monday and $6.5 million for a cume through Tuesday of $93.2 million. Film, one of the best reviewed titles of the year, could have strong legs.

Overseas, “Star Trek” also came in No. 1 in its debut, grossing $35.8 million from its 54 territories.

“Angels,” “the weekend’s only new wide release, could see substantial business in its international bow, based on the runaway success of “Da Vinci.” Its $540.7 million at the foreign B.O. is the 14th highest international take of all time.

Heading into its third frame is 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” Pic has cumed north of $250 million worldwide.

Openings on the specialty side include Summit Entertainment’s caper comedy “The Brothers Bloom,” starring Rachel Weisz, Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody. Film’s release was delayed several times since premiering at the Toronto Film Festival last year.

Openings on the foreign front other than “Angels and Demons” are limited to a few markets. Most notably, “Star Trek” launches in China and Japan; “17 Again” opens in Japan; “Fighting” debuts in Spain and the U.K.; and “The Last House on the Left” launches in Germany.