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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Chinese ban Da Vinci Code movie
Scene from the Da Vinci Code
The film opened in China before its official world premiere

China has ordered cinemas to stop showing The Da Vinci Code, weeks after it was released in the country.

Officials in the country said the move was to make way for local Chinese films to be shown during the peak summer viewing period.

But others say the ban may have been implemented because of the religious content of the film.

The film, starring Tom Hanks, has already been banned in Fiji, Pakistan and some Indian states.

It is based on Dan Brown's best-selling novel that claims Jesus married Mary Magdalene and that their descendants survive today.

Since it was released in China last month, the film has made 104 million yuan (7m) and was on its way to becoming one of the most successful foreign films to be released in China.

It initailly escaped the censor's cuts and made its debut in Beijing six hours ahead of the film's official premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

Short notice

Wu Hehu, spokesman for Shanghai's United Cinema Line Corporation, said he received a notice to cease showing the film, but he did not know why the order was made.

"This is such a short notice from the film's distributor," he said.

"I don't know the reason. We just do what we are told to do."

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Beijing said there had been speculation that the film was proving too popular with Chinese Christians.

China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television oversees film distribution and censorship in China.

In recent months it has also banned Memoirs of a Geisha and Brokeback Mountain.


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