Tom Hanks has been confirmedas the lead in Columbia Pictures' upcoming adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, which has been set for a worldwide day-and-daterelease on May 19 2006.

Hanks will play thesymbologist Robert Langdon, who is drawn into a world of intrigue and murdercentering on the possible whereabouts of the Holy Grail.

Ron Howard will reunite withhis A Beautiful Mind screenwriterAkiva Goldsman and production is set to begin in the US and Europe next year.Brian Grazer and John Calley will produce.

"Tom Hanks is one ofthe biggest stars in the world today," Calley said in a statement."He has all the intelligence, wry sophistication, everyman charm andtalent required to bring this role to life and it's hard to imagine a moreperfect fit for the character of Robert Langdon, who Dan Brown created withsuch compelling care in his bestseller, The Da Vinci Code."

"When John Calley and[Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group Chairman] Amy Pascal gave usthe opportunity to team with them on The Da Vinci Code, Ron and I knew it was the chance of alifetime," Grazer added.

"The potential thatexists through this collaboration of material and talent is extraordinary,"Howard said. "Having source material as rich and popular as Dan Brown's novel,a screenwriter with Akiva's talent and a star of the magnitude of Tom Hanks isan embarrassment of riches.

"We couldn't be more happyto be working alongside Columbia on this project."

The Da Vinci Code will be overseen by Matt Tolmach, co-president of production forColumbia Pictures, and Andrea Giannetti, executive vice president ofproduction.

At Imagine, the project willbe overseen by Karen Kehela Sherwood, co-chairman of Imagine Entertainment.

The Da Vinci Code marks Hanks third collaboration with Howard andGrazer after Apollo 13 and Splash.