05/16/2009 02:51 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

How Pope Benedict Outsmarted Ron Howard

So, it looks like Angels & Demons is going to be a box-office dud this weekend, barely holding off Star Trek and taking in a little more than half in box office revenue what the Da Vinci Code did in its opening weekend.

This despite the desperate attempt by director Ron Howard to use these pages to try to create a controversy where none existed.

Mr. Howard apparently thinks its still 1988 when Evangelical Christians showed their lack of smarts by protesting the release of The Last Temptation Of Christ, thereby giving it far more publicity than it would otherwise have received. But today traditionalists have become far more sophisticated in their response to movies like Howard's. They ignore them or even worse, praise them.

A few years back the producers of Saved hoped to incite a protest or boycott by sending around screeners to religious leaders. What they got instead was a collective yawn.

But Pope Benedict's Vatican deftly defused any controversy when it labeled Howard's film "harmless"

For a film hoping desperately for an organized protest, that was the unkindest cut of all.