China orders cinemas to pull 'The Da Vinci Code'

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The Independent Online

The Chinese government has ordered cinemas to stop showing The Da Vinci Code. It said that the ban was to make space for locally produced movies.

It is the first time the government has withdrawn a foreign movie from cinemas. But the official explanation appears to be contradicted by the release of another Hollywood blockbuster, Ice Age: The Meltdown, in China today.

Another possible explanation is that officials do not want the film to do well in China. Having made 104m yuan (£7m) since its release on 19 May, it was on its way to becoming one of the highest-earning foreign films in China.

Wu Hehu, a spokesman for Shanghai's United Cinema Line Corporation, said he received a notice to stop showing the film but he did not know why the order was made. "We just do what we are told to do," he said.

The Da Vinci Code has been opposed by Christian groups because it suggests that Jesus fathered children who continued his lineage.

China's state-backed Catholic Church urged followers to boycott the film, but only a few of China's 1.3 billion people are Christians, with estimates ranging from 16 million to 47 million. The film had been given the widest release yet for a foreign film in China, with 393 prints sent to cinemas.