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<i>The Da Vinci Code</i> set for India release on May 19

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Mumbai, (UNI): The Da Vinci Code, which will open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival on May 17, is set to release in Indian theatres on the same day of its global release on May 19.

Directed by Ron Howard, the film is an adaptation of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, one of the most popular and talked about novels that has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, with a cast headed by two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, JÜrgen Prochnow, Paul Bettany and Jean Reno. Akiva Goldsman is the screenwriter.

Uday Singh, managing director of Sony Pictures which releases the film in India, said, The Da Vinci Code is the most anticipated film of the year and is the big ticket event for this summer.'' An adventure thriller of such magnitude will be backed by a 360 degree marketing campaign and dubbed into Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam so as to take it to the masses, he said in a release.

In order to leverage the unprecedented awareness of the title and the huge international buzz, Sony Pictures India has decided to go wide in terms of theatrical prints and give people in India an opportunity to view the film along with the rest of the world, he said.

Ron Howard, who first came to Cannes for Willow (1988), followed by Far and Away (1992) and more recently Ed TV (1999), has been quoted in the release as saying, ''I discovered the book more or less the way the whole world did -- through amazing word-of-mouth.'' People are interested in it for different reasons and are personally impacted by it in a variety of ways, he said, adding that the story has all the style and traditional suspense elements that make a movie work as an entertaining narrative.

''The story feels familiar as a mystery and as a thriller with a fascinating turn of events,'' said Howard.

Having previously collaborated with screenwriter Akiva Goldsman on ''A Beautiful Mind'' and ''Cinderella Man'', Howard felt he was the natural choice to adapt Dan Brown's book.

Tom Hanks, who embodies Dan Brown's protagonist Robert Langdon in the film, also acknowledges Akiva's screenwriting talents. Akiva's job in adapting something that is as specific as The Da Vinci Code is a monumental task, he said.

The story, woven around a thrilling murder investigation, begins to unfold after famed symbologist Prof Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is called to the Louvre museum one night where a curator has been murdered, leaving behind a mysterious trail of symbols and clues.

With his own survival at stake, Langdon, aided by police cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), unveils a series of stunning secrets hidden in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, all leading to a covert society dedicated to guarding an ancient secret that has remained hidden for 2000 years.

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