HONG KONG – The Chinese government, in an unprecedented move, has ordered movie theaters to stop showing "The Da Vinci Code," movie industry officials said Thursday.
Chinese authorities said the withdrawal of the movie from theaters Friday was to make way for locally produced films, one industry executive said, declining to be named because she wasn't authorized to speak to the media on the matter.
But another Hollywood blockbuster, "Ice Age: The Meltdown" was to be released in China on Friday, said the executive, who added that "The Da Vinci Code" was the first foreign film to be pulled from theaters in China after being approved for release.
"The Da Vinci Code," which has been opposed by Christian groups because it suggests Jesus fathered children who continued his lineage, has made $13 million since its release on May 19. It was on its way to becoming one of the highest-earning foreign films in China, the executive said.
A man who answered the phone at the press office of China's Film Bureau in Beijing said he was "unclear" about whether the film was pulled from cinemas. He declined to give his name.
Wu Hehu, a spokesman for Shanghai's United Cinema Line Corporation, said he received a notice to cease showing the film, but he didn't know why the order was made.
"This is such a short notice from the film's distributor. They will stop showing it from tomorrow," Wu said.
"I don't know the reason either. We just do what we are told to do," he said.
"Pearl Harbor," which made $13 million, has been the No. 2 foreign film in Chinese box office history, the industry executive said.
"Titanic" was first, fetching $45 million.