Relaymedia

China Has Nationwide 'Da Vinci' Release, While Church Maintains Boycott

The 'Da Vinci Code' was released to the rest of China following the international release for the controversial film, Friday, while the official Chinese Catholic church maintained its calls to boyco
( [email protected] ) May 19, 2006 05:51 PM EDT

The “Da Vinci Code” was released to the rest of China following the international release for the controversial film, Friday, while the official Chinese Catholic church maintained its calls to boycott the film.

A Catholic newspaper in the Chinese city of Shijiazhuang ran an editorial for the film this week, calling the faithful to continue boycotting the film.

“We reject this film because it is not in accordance with the truth,” said Rev. Jean-Baptiste Zhang Shijiang, the director for the Hebei Faith Press, an officially-approved weekly publication that has a circulation of about 50,000.

“I believe most faithful people will voluntarily reject it throughout the country, although some may go see it out of curiosity,” Zhang said.

The film premiered at a gala in Beijing’s upscale Oriental Plaza Mall, Wednesday, one hour before the international Cannes Film festival premiere at the Cannes resort-town in France.

Cannes is still considered the “official worldwide premier,” said Li Chow, general manager in Beijing for the film’s distributor, Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

This has not stopped state-approved newspapers, such as The Beijing News newspaper, from touting on its headline, “China to be the First with Beijing Premiere of ‘Da Vinci Code.’”

Though the film received lackluster responses from major film critics during the Cannes Film festival, enthusiasm for watching the film has not been lost in China.

China’s Christian forums lit up over discussion of the film as the film netted in $108 million USD in ticket sales on its opening day.

“The release of the film will raise curiosity on the Christian culture in China,” said an unidentified-individual on the Chinese Christian Internet Mission (CCIM) discussion board, which is often frequented by Christians from Mainland China.

“If this film becomes popular in China, it will have many people interested in knowing more about Christianity,” the individual added.

Others on the forum pointed out that despite the films “misrepresentation of Christianity,” it is an opportunity for believers in China to “come out sharing their faith.”

The film, based on a popular novel by Dan Brown, alleges that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and bore offspring, and has led some believers to say the film is offensive to the Christian faith.

Nonetheless, a reviewer for the film assured Christians do not need to worry about the film’s release.

“Perhaps the most obvious sign that believers have little to fear came at the Cannes Film Festival when the movie reached its emotional and theological climax: People in the audience laughed,” said Richard N. Ostling, a religion writer for the Associate Press (AP).