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Even studio executives whose blockbusters seem(ed) like sure things have had their confidence shaken by the M:i:III disappointment™ and Poseidon bed-shitting®, terrified by the prospect that any given Monday could feature a dreaded trip to The Grill for their public humiliation lunch special. A key to minimizing the pain of any regrettable box office shortfall is not getting your corporate boss' hopes up:

"I've done a good job in my own mind of being modest as to the expectations," [chairman and chief executive of Sony Pictures Entertainment Michael Lynton] told Reuters in an interview this week while en route to the south of France, where "The Da Vinci Code" will launch the vaunted Cannes film festival later on Wednesday amid protests from the Vatican and many Christian groups.

"I've encouraged, and Amy Pascal (chairman of Sony's motion pictures group) has encouraged myself and others not to expect something that's out of proportion," he added.

This ass-covering tactic of managed expectations is a wise one, and a prescient one, as Lynton gave that quote before the flood of bad buzz following the first screenings last night. Should something truly disastrous happen, say, like Sony discovers when the weekend numbers come in that it didn't make a movie good enough for people to want to bother shoving past the priests who lit themselves on fire in their local multiplex lobby, they can always say they were never really that excited in the first place.