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The Trashing Of The Christ

Contrasts In Media Treatment of The DaVinci Code and The Passion

Introduction

2006-05-16-NBCTodayThe news media play an important role in popular culture by providing publicity for the movie studios as films are readied for release. But some movies are more favored by the news media than others, some for their expected status as expensive but appealing blockbusters, and some for their social commentary (for example, the film Brokeback Mountain). The DaVinci Code was both: an expected blockbuster movie based on one of the most publicized works of fiction in the new century, drawing enormous national media interest with its vision of a vast, murderous church conspiracy. It should not be surprising that The DaVinci Code came roaring out of the box office with a $77 million opening weekend.

In 2004, the networks showed hostility to a more orthodox vision of Jesus in the movie The Passion of the Christ. So MRC analysts compared coverage of the year before The Passion (March 2003 through February 2004) and the year before The DaVinci Code (May 19, 2005 to May 18, 2006) on the morning, evening, prime-time and late-night news programs of ABC, CBS, and NBC.