Buddhist Monks Protest Upcoming Movie

More than 500 Buddhist monks marched in the Sri Lankan capital Monday expressing outrage and demanding a ban on an upcoming Hollywood movie, threatening to fast — even to death — if their objections were not heeded.

"Hollywood Buddha" (search), made by independent filmmaker Philippe Caland, will be released in California Sept. 24. It's about a struggling Hollywood producer who rents a Buddha statue at the behest of a Buddhist friend who believes it will bring him luck selling his feature film.

Saffron-robed monks from the Patriotic National Movement (search) marched to the U.S. Embassy denouncing an advertisement of the movie that shows a man seated on the head of a Buddha statue.

Some carried the advertisement while others waved Buddhist flags and staged a sit-down protest shielding themselves with black umbrellas against the blazing midday sun.

"We want the release of this film stopped," said monk Mawarale Baddiya, holding a loudspeaker. "The film scoffs at lord Buddha, his character and his teaching."

The protesters handed a petition to an embassy representative about their objections. But Baddiya warned that if action is not taken their next step would be to begin a fast outside the embassy.

Last week, lawmakers in predominantly Buddhist Thailand expressed similar outrage over the movie.