Kim Masters and the Zen of the “DaVinci” koan

“If the potato isn’t rotten, people might ask, why hide the potato?”

So asks NPR and Slate contributor, Kim Masters, in a look at why it is that Sony Pictures has yet to screen the Ron Howard film for critics.

Writes Masters:

“I’ve never been this close to a release without having someone tell me what they thought,” acknowledges a key player in the making of the film.”

Here’s why: Privately, a Sony insider tells me that the real reason the film hasn’t been screened is the very medium you’re reading Slate and FishbowlLA on: The web. Not just home to pernicious pirates, the web’s gossip monger websites would have “posted every spoiler” and taken the wind out of the sails of a global marketing campaign.

It raises a fair point: With every pirate – amateur and professional – angling for the rush of being the first to post a hundred million dollar plus film’s images, Sony and, for that matter, Hollywood, has little choice but to play coy. Sony, after all isn’t just selling “The DaVinci Code” – it’s selling the experience of seeing it. To be honest, with a book this popular, we’re a little shocked there’s even a trailer out.

And in any event, our source tells us “DaVinci” is being screened next Wednesday at the Cinerama Dome for members of the press. Not that it much matters: Exhibitors will see the film this weekend, and no doubt, the web will be ablaze with the opinions of the 13 year old kids who snuck into the theater to see it. Opinions which will no doubt reach a fever pitch by Wednesday’s press screening, but which probably should be taken about as seriously as a 13 year old’s criticism of “Madame Bovary.”

Anyway, it’s hardly a blackout. More like delayed gratification – a concept the Web just can’t abide.