PR - Crisis and Management

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Da Vinci Code goes from best-selling book to big-screen blockbuster amid the sort of ticket-selling controversy that studios pray for. While the film is gaining publicity, it's also coming under attack from religious leaders who have argued that the film should be changed so as not to offend Catholics. With the movie's release only a few months ahead, this controversy is gaining both negative and positive publicity for this greatly anticipated film.

Sony is launching a marketing campaign designed to both increase anticipation for the film while catering to the religious groups who have abeen known to trash films that displease them. The problem with a film that has such high expectations like The Da Vinci Code is that the huge publicity can backfire. Sony is doing its best to pacify religious leaders. It hired crisis public relations firm Sitrick & Company to help it devise a strategy that gave Catholics the ability to vent while pitching the Da Vinci Code film as fiction, not a dramatization of real events.

Sitrick, in true crisis public relations form, had personnel interview religious leaders to gauge their attitudes, and the company hired one-time Warner Brothers publicists Jonathan Bock, whose company Grace Hill Media has promoted films like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Exorcism of Emily Rose to religious groups. Bock, in turn has built a Web site,, and invited a cross-section of Christian writers, scholars, and evangelical leaders to discuss the book in a series of essays. Sitrick & Company and Imagine Entertainment, Ron Howard's production company, did not return phone calls. A Sony spokesman says: "We view The Da Vinci Code as a work of fiction that is not meant to harm any organization. And at its heart, it's a thriller, not a religious tract" (


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