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Sony's Amy Pascal might be publicly banking on the involvement of starting Da Vinici Code Blasphemy Dream Team backcourt Ron Howard and Tom Hanks in her studio's planned sequel, Angels & Demons, but NPR's Kim Masters reports that should Hanks' schedule interfere, the franchise could still survive:

Despite Pascal's unequivocal insistence that Hanks and Howard will return, some informed speculation holds that Sony could live without either of them for the next installment. The talent on The Da Vinci Code is expensive, and some at the studio—looking at the film's extraordinary success overseas—give a measure of credit to a strong international cast, including Jean Reno, Ian McKellen, and Audrey Tautou. Since Angels & Demons is set before the events of The Da Vinci Code, a younger (and cheaper) male lead might work out fine.

All things being equal, of course, we'd bet Pascal would be happy to make the investment in Hanks and eschew the more budget-minded options; she'd spare herself innumerable nights of waking up drenched in sweat, haunted by nightmares of Vin Diesel in Hanks' much-ridiculed Da Vinci hairpiece, attempting to mumble his way through page after page of stilted expository dialogue.