Brian Hutchinson | National Post
VANCOUVER – A movie house commercial that encourages churchgoers to see and discuss Hollywood thriller The Da Vinci Code has been dropped by Canada’s largest cinema chain, which said the ad was part of a religious campaign to “stalk” unsuspecting film patrons.
The 10-second spot was produced by evangelical Christians and was to be shown for the next month inside 65 Cineplex cinemas in Ontario and Western Canada.
The ad directs people to a Christian Web site devoted to the controversial film, which opens across North America today.
Cineplex Entertainment LP is promoting the movie heavily; however, on Wednesday, the company abruptly cancelled its $63,000 advertising deal with Campus Crusade for Christ Canada, a B.C.-based affiliate of the world’s largest evangelical Christian organization, CCC International.
The decision was announced after a story about the Campus Crusade ad appeared this week in the Toronto Star.
In addition to producing the ad, the Star reported, Campus Crusade had “mobilized a small army of volunteers from Toronto to Vancouver willing to stalk moviegoers in the line outside cinemas” and to press upon them “biblical tracts,” debunking contentious claims about Jesus Christ said to be in the movie treatment of The Da Vinci Code.
Cineplex made direct reference to the Star article in an e-mail to Campus Crusade yesterday.
“With the knowledge that this organization plans to ‘stalk’ our moviegoers outside of our theatres handing out unapproved material concerning a film we are presenting, we cannot lend support to this activity by running this campaign,” wrote Cineplex ad saleswoman Diane Rajh.
Campus Crusade’s marketing director was flabbergasted when he read the Cineplex e-mail.
“We never planned to stalk anybody,” Braden Douglas said yesterday.
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Posted Fri May 19th, 2006